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Government pushes forward with Digital ID 

Legislation has been presented before the Senate that aims to “strengthen and expand Australia’s Digital ID System” and could speed up the loan process.

The federal government has introduced new legislation to the Senate that it says will “strengthen and expand Australia’s Digital ID System”.

On Thursday (30 November), the Digital ID Bill 2023 was introduced to Senate, putting in place the legislative framework to create an “economy-wide Digital ID System” in Australia.

The bill aims to strengthen an accreditation scheme for Digital ID service providers, as well as enable the expansion of the Australian government Digital ID System to states and territories and subsequently the private sector.

It allows people to verify their ID when interacting online without having to repeatedly provide copies of their documents such as passports, birth certificates, and driver licences.

According to the explanatory memorandum, Digital ID could save time and money in the loan application process, among other use cases.

A case study example outlined that should a borrower apply for a business loan, there would typically be several steps involved to verify the borrower’s identity, including “gathering identity and other documentation, completing information collection and application processes, and potentially visiting the bank in person”.

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If the borrower instead could use Digital ID to complete the information collection and application process, the process would take significantly less time than it would otherwise, the government has suggested.

Indeed, it estimates that a business borrower could save $140 in avoided costs and about one hour and 45 minutes in time.

In a joint statement, Minister for Finance Katy Gallagher, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones said that “Digital ID is a secure, convenient, voluntary, and inclusive way for Australians to verify their ID online”.

The legislation followed the government conducting a three-week consultation on the exposure draft for the Digital ID Bill in September this year.

Ms Gallagher said the government planned to have a national, economy-wide Digital ID System that allowed Australians to operate online more easily and securely.

She noted: “Improving safety online is a priority for us and legislation will ensure strong independent oversight is in place to support the expansion of the Australian government Digital ID System from mid-2024.

“We’ve spoken with business, community, and privacy groups to ensure the bill will deliver the privacy safeguards, accreditation options, and consumer safeguards they expect.”

Mr Jones agreed and stated: “Whether it’s thwarting a scammer who is pretending to be your bank or securing your online tax accounts so criminals cannot access it, Digital ID will help secure Australians’ money and their information.”

Alongside the bill, the Albanese government confirmed it would be investing $145.5 million to support the Digital ID System and implement independent regulation and oversight of it.

The investment will be over four years from 2023–24 and includes:

  • $67 million over 2.5 years from 2023–24 for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to perform interim regulatory functions under the Digital ID legislation from 1 July 2024.
  • $56 million over four years from 2023–24 to the Attorney-General’s Department for the continued operation of the identity matching services and a further $3.3 million to enhance the Credential Protection Register to enable the government to respond to future data breaches and support and protect victims of identity crime.
  • Funding for key priorities including ICT updates to myGovID, communications to improve individual and business awareness and understanding of Digital ID, supporting the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to prepare for its privacy oversight role of Digital ID, and enabling the Department of the Treasury to support the ACCC to deliver its Digital ID functions and scope options for a data and digital regulator.

[Related: Digital ID a ‘logical answer’ to cyber crime: ANZ]

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