Government ramps up efforts to deliver a functional digital identity

Government ramps up efforts to deliver a functional digital identity

Delivering a secure and functional digital ID while allowing citizens to retain control of their personal data is challenging

Credit: Dreamstime

New Zealanders will have their say on how they are recognised online, with the government committing $5.15 million funding for research into digital identity.

The two year work program, announced by Government digital services minister Megan Woods today, will be led by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and look at how government can set the right rules and environment, take advantage of new technologies and meet the evolving needs and expectations of citizens.

“With more and more aspects of our lives taking place online it’s critical the government takes a lead to ensure New Zealanders have control of how and who uses their identity information,” Woods said.

DIA is already working on a project at Lightning Lab Govtech to address the problem of inaccessible ID data for recipients of NZ Super.

"Using new technologies – such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and facial biometrics – allows applicants to prove who they are without presenting in person," the project brief stated.

"This project has been working with the Ministry of Social Development to address this need but they know that this wider impacts across all Government services."

The department also already manages the RealMe login for access to government and some private sector services as well as the more comprehensive Identity Verification Service.

Under the new effort, Government proposes to deliver better privacy and security protections for citizens’ identity data, while leaving them in control of what happens to their personal information.

“This area is complex and changing rapidly - so it is important we get our approach right," Woods added. "Most countries and jurisdictions around the world are investing in approaches to digital identity that reflect their social licence, and I believe New Zealand should do the same."

Views from across the country are also being sought to define the future role of government in digital identity, and investigate innovative services the private sector can offer.

"This is an exciting and important conversation to have," Woods said. "Getting it right will help grow our economy, transform government services and ensure everyone has access to the tools and knowledge they need to take part in New Zealand’s future."

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