Experts to guide lagging digital ID program

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Experts in service delivery, verification, privacy and inclusion have been brought in to guide the expansion of Australia’s digital ID program, now in its eighth year with more than $600 million spent.

Former NSW Digital Government minister Victor Dominello is chairing a new Ministerial Digital ID Expert Panel to provide independent advice on the project, including meeting with Finance minister Katy Gallagher on Monday.

He is joined on Panel by former Australian Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton, First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group chair Dot West, and former head of Australia Post Digital iD Margo Stephen.

NSW Minister for Digital Government Victor Dominello at the InnovationAus Awards for Excellence last year.

Australia’s Digital ID system will allow citizens to verify their identity online to access public and private services. It is hoped the system will reduce the need to share personal information like licences or passports with individual organisations to access services.

It includes the federal government’s own identity service myGovID, but state and private firms will also be able to act as the digital ID provider.

“Digital ID is not just about modernisation; it’s about fostering economic growth, enhancing productivity, and ensuring the highest standards of security,” Minister Gallagher said in a LinkedIn post revealing the new panel.

“I’m keen to work with this panel and draw on their expertise to maximise the benefits of Digital ID for individuals and businesses across the country.”

The government has spent the last seven years developing the scheme, with the then-Digital Transformation Office kicking off initial work on a Trusted Digital Identity Framework for verification in 2015.

Subsequent years have seen the government sink more than $600 million into the program, which has stalled over the last two years without funding or the necessary legislation for an economy-wide expansion of the scheme.

Major data breaches last year have added to the urgency, with the identity documents of millions of Australians compromised in a handful of incidents.

“The recent data breaches involving Optus, Lattitude, Medibank etc have demonstrated that sharing paper copies of our passport or drivers licence or Medicare card or birth certificate etc is an over-share of our personal information,” Mr Dominello said an another LinkedIn post.

“A digital ID that empowers the individual with more control over their personal information will significantly enhance: privacy, security and service delivery options for the people of Australia.”

Mr Dominello left state politics earlier this year after leading the development and roll out of what is considered Australia’s best digital government services regime. This included the digitisation of various licences and credentials through new ways of funding and developing services.

He has expressed doubts about the current “trust architecture” in Australia ahead of transformative technologies like digital ID and artificial intelligence, and suggested more regulation and power for individuals may be needed going forward.

Former privacy watchdog and fellow panel member Malcolm Crompton has also warned that digital ID introduces new risks like law enforcement over reach, and must come with strong governance controls and well-resourced regulators.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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