Wednesday, 09 May 2018 06:12

Digital ID to get a boost; data commissioner to be appointed Featured

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Australia's digital identity program, GovPass, will receive $92.4 million to be taken to completion, beginning in 2018-19, the Federal Budget papers show.

Of this, about two-thirds is new money and the balance will come from the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Human Services, with the former absorbing $25.9 million and the latter $5.6 million.

The Digital Transformation Agency will test the delivery of GovPass across a range of services, including a pilot for users to create a digital identity and complete a Tax File Number application online from end to end.

The Budget has also tasked the DTA with looking at areas where blockchain technology can be used to benefit the delivery of government services. This will be funded from within the agency's resources.

New data governance arrangements, in line with the Productivity Commission's 2017 report on Data Availability and Use, will be put in place, with a data sharing and release framework, underpinned by legislation, to be developed and administered by a newly established National Data Commissioner.

The NDC will:

  • develop guidance on data-sharing arrangements;
  • monitor and address risks and ethical considerations on data use; and
  • manage the process for high-value datasets.

Technical guidance and support will be provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to government agencies on release of data, including best practice advice to ensure data is de-identified prior to release.

In 2016, the Department of Health had to pull a dataset made available to the public on the data.gov.au website after a researcher at Melbourne University found that service provider IDs could be identified.

Australian Information Industry Association chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick said: “We applaud the $92.4 million investment in the digital identity program and the government’s increased focus to make this a priority.

"The lack of a digital identity has been a handbrake on progress, so government’s increased funding and emphasis on the delivery of GovPass, the digital identity program, shows pragmatic leadership.”

Commenting on the budgetary allocation for GovPass, Rupert Taylor-Price, founder and chief executive of Vault Systems, the company that is the cloud host for the technology, said: “Vault Systems finds the additional funding to GovPass very encouraging for the Australian public. GovPass will bridge the gap between government services and customer experience.

"With this additional funding, the use of government platforms will be more streamlined and secured while also providing a positive customer experience similar to how people book an Uber or Airbnb.

"Australians will be able to access multiple government agencies and provide legal identification just as if they were booking a ride home while also guaranteeing citizens' data is secure and sovereign.”

Vault Systems is one of five providers that is certified at the Protected status with the government to handle data with the highest security clearance.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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