Australia’s Govpass, the nationwide digital ID program under construction, is moving toward wider testing as federal officials incorporate feedback into the effort, monitor the results of early use and seek out technology that would better protect the system from fraud.
The opt-in digital ID system would authenticate users of government services and certain private sector activities. The push to get the technology off the ground represents one of the largest ongoing digital ID efforts in the Western world, and involves a loose collaboration of Australia’s federal government, state and territorial officials, and members of the private sector.
Bringing some 750,000 tax file number applications online would reduce visits and cut a wait time that can reach 40 days to only a few minutes
The federal Digital Transformation Agency, the federal bureaucracy founded in 2015 to help government become more digital, is spearheading Govpass. The goal is to save time and money by reducing the need for people to show up in person at various offices to authenticate themselves with physical IDs.
Agency officials want to add passport and driver’s license photos to the Australian digital IDs. That could help law enforcement identify suspects from crime scene photos or video surveillance and help guard against identity theft by matching an applicant’s image against a pre-collected facial biometric.
Australia’s Govpass testing already underway
The agency has introduced Govpass use to the Australian Taxation Office’s online tax file number application service, itself a new program. The aim is to reduce the wait and hassle tied to the tax file number application processes, with some 750,000 applications potentially being brought online, according to Australian media reports. That would reduce visits to Australia Post and other locations, and cut a wait time that can reach 40 days to a few minutes.
The agency also wants to launch larger tests in mid-2018. Officials reportedly continue to solicit feedback from outside experts and private industry before those new tests. As well, the Digital Transformation Agency last month released an overview and glossary of its “Trusted Digital Identity Framework,” a 35-page document that lays out some the basics of the digital ID program. A released scheduled for April will dive deeper into accreditation requirements and program governance. Another one scheduled for June will cover “business identity, including authorizations and Attribute Provider accreditation requirements.”
Meanwhile, the Australian agency reportedly is seeking software that would provide “liveness detection” capabilities to protect against Govpass identification fraud. According to the Australian edition of Computerworld, the software “might tell an individual to turn their head in a certain, randomly selected direction or speak a series of words, with multiple images or video captured for analysis, [and] is intended to weed out the use of printed or digital images, video replays or artificial avatars.”