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Australia's Digital Identity

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Australia's Digital Identity is characterized by an innovative system that can be used to benefit from online services. The initiative relies on a central database and the identity issuance mechanism adopted by the central government.
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Governments worldwide are shifting towards digital solutions to address the inability of citizens to prove their identities. Australia is one example as it has devoted particular attention to this issue in its Vision 2025. The Australian Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) was tasked to collaborate with the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Home Affairs, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to implement several services and projects based on the principle of digital and ICT platforms at the government level.

The Digital Identity service, launched in Australia in 2017, is among the services that the government focused on to enable citizens and businesses to benefit from public services and reduce identity theft crimes. This electronic service was added to the conventional points of service, such as over-the-phone services or visits to one of the public entity's branches. The government's main goal was to provide services to the states and territories in a more consistent and smooth manner.

Australia's Digital Identity is characterized by an innovative system that can be used to benefit from online services. The initiative relies on a central database and the identity issuance mechanism adopted by the central government. In 2017, face recognition was added to the system to enhance its functions and benefits. Among the early adopters of this initiative are the Australian Taxation Office and Australia Post which enabled request submissions by using myGovID and Digital ID apps.

On another note, Digital Identity offers the Single Sign-On feature for service provision, instead of being reviewed by several entities each time for authentication. This mechanism is similar to the Identity Verification system that consists of 100 points and is adopted by Australia to combat fraud. Rather than turning to public entities to validate identity documents, the entire process can be completed online through smart devices.

To facilitate procedures for citizens and encourage them to issue a digital identity, the relevant entities have laid out simple and easy steps to submit an application. All you need to do is download the app through your smartphone and validate your identity by uploading documents, such as your driver's license and birth certificate to obtain your Digital ID documents which you can use to benefit from online services. This service is not limited to citizens. Companies can establish e-platforms by linking their accounts to an Australian commercial registration number and using it to create accounts for citizens. 

The Digital Identity system includes a reliable framework that is based on a set of rules and standards that apply to all suppliers and services within the Digital Identity program. The government, represented by the myGovID app, which attracts more than 15 million users for about 12 services, is involved in the provision of these services, in addition to the private sector through the Digital ID app, and the banking sector that offers distinctive features, such as knowing your customers, in addition to states, territories, and local government. By adopting these authentication services, face recognition services can be provided, which include the technologies that determine whether a person is dead or alive. The system also includes representatives authorized to act on behalf of others and the Authorization Relationship Manager who manages representatives assigned to act on behalf of businesses. On another note, this system ensures privacy protection features and allows the user to choose the identity provider, knowing that the digital service is not authorized to see the identity verification documents of the user, and service providers cannot determine which service is being used. This system can be employed in several areas, including taxes, social welfare, health, business, education, and social services.

Accordingly, the Digital Identity portal supports myGovID and Digital ID apps for smartphones. The Australian Taxation Office plans to use the first application by the end of March 2020, while the second app is used within Australia Post. Finally, the AUSkey portal is an ID authentication system used for logging in and identifying the person using the services on behalf of a business. The Government intends to replace AUSkey with myGovID. It has already spent around AUD 30 million to develop myGovID and plans to spend more, thus increasing the total budget for replacing the authentication system AUSkey in March 2020 to AUD 73 million. According to the DTA, the number of downloads for myGovID smartphone app has reached 80,000 used to issue 46,000 digital IDs. After launching the first phase of the Digital Identity, the DTA plans to expand the initiative by introducing the portal in some private sector entities. Digital Identity has paved the way for a second initiative, which is the launch of a digital copy of the driver's license to verify the user's eligibility for the compensation that became available in November 2019.

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