Huge privacy shake-up on ID cards

The government claims the move will make protecting data easier.
A new services is hoped to increase privacy protections as the government moves toward creating a universal Digital ID.

Australia is one step closer to a new national digital ID card, which promises increased security around privacy and data.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher has released the draft legislation for the ID bill, kicking off consultation Australians on Tuesday.

The new Digital ID will bring together a people’s official licences and forms of identification, such as passports, birth certificates and drivers licences, to one platform run by the government.

The government claims the move will make protecting data easier.
The final Digital ID Bill is expected to be rolled out later this year.

That would then be used to verify an individual’s identity when dealing with government departments and third-party organisations such as banks, real estate agencies and insurance companies.

In the wake of huge cyber attacks at Optus and Medibank, where the private details of millions were obtained by hackers, it’s hoped the new service will limit what can be accessed during a data breach, with Australians no longer having to hand over documents to private companies.

“The legislation when passed will move Digital ID to a nationally regulated system which will be accessible across both the public and private sector and will include strong privacy protections,” Ms Gallagher said.

Ms Gallagher has committed to launching the final bill “by the end of this year”.

More than 10.5 million Australians already using a Digital ID to access government services such as the Australian Taxation Office and Medicare.

However, there has been some pushback around the scheme, with privacy campaigners concerned about the security of the program.

Child's Australian Passport
Passports, birth certificates and drivers licences would all be stored on the Digital ID platform. Doc Holiday Photo - Getty Images

Some argue that the pool of sensitive documents could expose Australians to more data breaches.

The announcement was welcomed by chief executive Simon Bush of the Australian Information Industry Association, the peak body for innovation technology.

“We have been urging the Federal Government to adopt a Digital ID to improve service delivery and interoperability with other departments and states that will benefit all Australians,” Mr Bush said.

“The proposed legislation will provide strong regulation for accredited Digital ID providers to make sure they keep your information private and secure, if you choose to create and reuse a Digital ID to access online services.”