Uncertainty on myGov digital ID integration

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The DTA is walking back on its aim to integrate its digital identity service with myGov by the end of the financial year, after recently completing a small pilot testing this function.

In August last year the DTA’s head of digital identity Jonathon Thorpe said people would be able to use the ATO’s digital identity offering, myGovID, to log into myGov by the end of the financial year.

This aim was repeated by DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander at a Senate estimates hearing in October.

But with only weeks left until that deadline, the DTA has not recommitted to it, and the plans appear to have been delayed, with a pilot of the integration completed last week that included just 149 participants.

Taxing times: myGovID integration so far only into the Tax Office

A DTA spokesperson declined to recommit to the end of the financial deadline or provide detail on how the pilot went.

“The DTA and Services Australia are currently considering the insights from the myGov digital identity integration pilot,” the spokesperson told InnovationAus.

The DTA declined to say whether the participants in the trial were from the general public or internal staff members, and when it plans to fully integrate myGovID with myGov.

GovPass is the name given to the government’s overarching digital identity program, led by the DTA with involvement from five agencies and departments. It aims to provide a whole-of-government way to verify identity across government and private sector services, with multiple different digital identity services on offer as part of a federated model.

The project has cost more than $200 million across five years and is now slowly emerging out of the shadows and becoming more available to the general public.

myGovID is currently a digitised version of the 100-point ID test, but the DTA has recently “successfully connected and tested new software products” allowing for the use of facial recognition to provide identity, matching a selfie with a passport photo the DTA said in a recent submission to a FinTech inquiry.

Most notably so far, myGovID replaced AUSKey, becoming the only way to log into the ATO’s tax agent portal. This led to a rapid increase in downloads of the myGovID app.

The app has now been downloaded 1.65 million times, with 1.27 million digital identities created through it, as of mid-May.

The DTA is now finally approaching the completion of the program, which will involve connecting up significant government services and offering it more widely to individuals and businesses, and a large-scale communication campaign to raise awareness of it.

This process will see private companies and state and territory governments providing their own digital identity services through GovPass and will likely be charged a fee to do so. This will require legislation to be passed by Parliament to underpin privacy protections around the participation of private companies in the scheme.

GovPass has cost $204.3 million as of the start of 2020, since it was launched in the 2015-16 financial year. It will likely receive another significant funding boost in the October budget as it nears completion.

The DTA recently brought in a policy and strategy officer to deliver a discussion paper by the end of the month on the prospect of charging for participation in the federated digital ID program.

It also recently brought a contractor on board to begin vetting private companies and state and territory governments against the Trusted Digital Identity Framework to be accredited and entered into the ecosystem.

The DTA also brought in another contractor to scope out the potential to incorporate more biometrics in the scheme, including voice and face data.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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