Government to scrutinise identity management, protection

“Effective management and sharing of identity information” critical for public trust in the delivery of government services, home affairs minister says

The government has commissioned a review into the protection and management of identity information.

Terms of reference for the review, which will be led by Roger Wilkins, the former secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, state that it will “focus primarily, but not necessarily exclusively, on arrangements for issuing, using and managing an individual's documents, credentials and their related identity information that are most commonly relied upon as evidence of a person's identity by government and key sectors of the economy”.

The review will consider legislative frameworks, “practices and systems for the collection, use, sharing of identity information”, and “coordination amongst government agencies, and between government and other entities.”

Wilkins will be supported by IDCARE managing director, Professor David Lacey.

Home affairs minister Peter Dutton said that that government is concerned about tackling identity crime. A statement from the minister added: “The effective management and sharing of identity information is also critical to maintaining public trust in the delivery of government services.

“Citizens want to know that their privacy is maintained and the services being provided are tailored to their needs and easy to use.”

“This review will assess current identity management arrangements and include consultations with the states and territories, the private sector, and interested civil society organisations,” Dutton said.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission in its most recent report on serious financial crime said that identity crime is under-reported. However, according to the ACIC is one of the most pervasive forms of crime in Australia, thanks in part to the increased use of personal information for online services.

A government report released in November 2016 estimated that identity crime costs Australia $2.6 billion every year, including direct and indirect losses and the costs of preventing and responding to identity theft.

One of the government’s current high-profile technology programs is GovPass: A digital identity system being built by the Digital Transformation Agency. GovPass — via the ATO-managed myGovID — will offer a single login for government services, allowing individuals to prove their identity once through a verification service.

The scrutiny of identity management and protection comes as the government seeks to push through parliament a controversial bill that critics have argued will potentially undermine the security of online services.

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