Digital Identity Legislation in Australia: Opportunities and Concerns

During the recent election campaign, minor parties such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the United Australia Party expressed opposition to proposed digital identity legislation. The Digital ID system, initiated by the Coalition Government in 2015, aimed to offer a “safe, secure, and convenient way to prove who you are every time you access government online services… entirely voluntary and controlled by you.” However, the Trusted Digital Identity Bill 2021 was not introduced before Parliament was prorogued in April 2022. As the 47th Parliament begins, the future of the Digital ID system will depend on how the incoming Labor Government responds to criticisms about its architecture, security, and biometrics.

Verify 365, a leading company offering Anti-Money Laundering (AML) ID checks and client onboarding software, has been closely following the development of the Digital ID system in Australia. CEO Rudi Kesic said, “A secure and reliable digital identity system can benefit both individuals and businesses, streamlining access to government services and enhancing security in identity verification.”

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) initially led the development of the Digital ID system until May 2021, when responsibility shifted to Services Australia. The DTA described the purpose of the system as providing “Australian people and businesses with a single, secure way to access government and other services online.” The system aims to simplify access to government services, eventually expanding to include more government agencies and private sector organisations.

Director of Verify 365, Mev Dzihic, commented on the potential benefits of the Digital ID system. “A comprehensive digital identity system can help reduce fraud, improve the customer experience, and ensure compliance with AML and other regulations. However, it’s crucial that the system maintains the highest levels of security and privacy.”

Currently, the Digital ID system offers access to over 80 Australian Government services, such as applying for a Tax File Number, an online Customer Reference Number, a Unique Student Identifier, or a company director identification number. The DTA has noted that legislative authority is necessary to “expand, maintain and regulate” the system, including enabling state, territory, and private sector entities to participate.

However, the Digital ID system has faced criticisms about its architecture, security, and biometrics. Critics argue that the documentation provided lacks detail on some aspects, such as the use of biometrics. These concerns must be addressed to ensure the system’s security and reliability.

Kesic shared his thoughts on the importance of addressing these concerns: “As a company that specialises in identity verification, we understand the need for a secure, robust, and transparent digital identity system. The Australian Government must address these criticisms and ensure that the Digital ID system provides the necessary security and privacy protections.”

As the 47th Parliament begins, the future of the Digital ID system in Australia remains uncertain. The incoming Labor Government’s response to criticisms of the system will play a crucial role in determining its future development. Verify 365 will continue to monitor the situation, committed to providing secure and efficient identity verification solutions for businesses in Australia and around the world.

Dzihic concluded, “We are hopeful that the Australian Government will address the concerns surrounding the Digital ID system and move forward with a secure and reliable solution. At Verify 365, we remain dedicated to offering innovative and secure identity verification services to our clients, ensuring compliance with AML and other regulations.”