NSW Digital ID continues under new govt

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Minns New South Wales government will continue the state’s digital ID push by continuing pilots for several components of the new scheme, including proof of age and working with children checks.

The agency in charge, Digital.NSW, won’t put a date on a full roll out but insists pilots are well progressed and built on multiple risk frameworks and external assurances for privacy and information security.

New minister for customer service and digital government Jihad Dib this week said the scheme will hand citizens “power over their privacy back to the people” after millions had information compromised in data breaches.

“We want to take proactive steps to ensure everyone has access to the tools they need to protect their privacy and provide security around personal information,” Mr Dib said.

“Any digital service the NSW Government provides will continue to undergo rigorous testing to ensure the community has confidence that their private information is safe and secure.”

NSW Digital ID is a decentralised identity scheme that allows users to verify their identity once with government and then allow public and private service providers to confirm it without accessing their personal information.

Through a Digital Wallet the personal information and credentials will remain on the users’ mobile device. The user will control who can access specific credentials and will always be able to opt for the use of physical documents if preferred.

Success could mean the end of customers sending copies of licences, passports and other sensitive information to companies to prove their identity, lessening the need to hold the data and expose it to breaches.

The ambitious program was described as the “holy grail” by the state’s former digital minister Victor Dominello, who launched trials last year after several years of early work.

Pilots have now been run for onboarding, the initial photo verification of a user, and using the ID to proof the user is over the age of 18, and is eligible to work with children.

However, the pilots had a delayed start and participation has been limited — reportedly just 36 in the initial phase earlier this year.

A spokesperson for Digital.NSW declined to put a date on when specific Digital ID services would launch or when the full scheme would be rolled out.

“NSW Digital ID will be made available more broadly once rigorous testing, audit and reviews are completed to ensure information is safe and secure,” the spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.

The agency is launching the pilots under some urgency, noting it has “never been more important than now to stop the overshare of information” but insists assurance steps are being taken.

“The NSW government has implemented the NSW AI Assurance Framework, completed Fraud Risk Assessments and Security Risk Assessments, and aligned the NSW Digital ID (Beta) with the DTA’s Trusted Digital Identity Framework,” the spokesperson said.

“External assurances have also been completed through Privacy Impact Assessments undertaken by external parties and via briefing the NSW Privacy Commissioner.”

Hanging over the state effort is the long promised national digital ID system. Huge investments have been made and enabling legislation has been drafted for the national approach, but it failed to get off the ground under the former Coalition government.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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