Government releases digital ID framework

Step towards allowing private sector to provide ID services

The government has released the first component of the Trusted Digital Identity Framework for organisations seeking to provide identity services.

The framework, whose development has been overseen by the Digital Transformation Agency, is intended to set standards for organisations providing digital ID for access to online services.

The framework will help underpin the development of a federated digital identity system and provide the the standards for the government's Govpass ID platform

The intention is allow individuals to only have to prove their identity once and then be able to use a digital ID across multiple government services.

Implementation of the framework will eventually allow an individual to “simply and securely establish a digital identity through an identity provider of their choice, and safely reuse that identity to transact across all tiers of government and with the private sector, with their privacy assured,” the TDIF overview (PDF) states.

There are currently more than 30 different logins used for Commonwealth services, according to the government.

The final report of the Financial Systems Inquiry, released in November 2014, recommended that the government, in consultation with the private sector, should “develop a national identity strategy based on a federated-style model in which public and private sector identity providers would compete to supply trusted digital identities to individuals and businesses.”

“Digital identity is a significant current example of an area where network benefits can be harnessed more effectively through public–private sector collaboration, and Government facilitating industry action,” the report stated.

A federated model “would support the growth of a competitive market in identity services that enables best use of technology and promotes innovation”.

“A federated-style model suits the Australian context as Australia has not had a history of government-issued identity cards and has a strong privacy ethos compared to other jurisdictions,” the report argued.

“This model has the potential to provide consumers with choice and convenience while enhancing privacy. Australia already has in place many foundational elements for a federated-style system, and this model seeks to leverage and build on these existing effective elements.”

In response the report the government said it would develop a national digital identity strategy to “streamline individuals’ engagement with government and provide efficiency improvements.”

“We want to make it easier for the Australian people to interact with their government,” said a statement issued today by Michael Keenan, human services minister and minister assisting the prime minister for digital transformation.

“Digital identity will give people simple, safe and secure access to multiple government services online and be able to be accessed at home, at work or on the go.”

According to the DTA, there are two more TDIF components that will be released: One will be an offline option for creating a digital ID. The second is a framework for authorising individuals to act on behalf of a business.

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