January 19, 2021

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Australia’s myGov platform launches passwordless digital identity solution

It is now possible to log on to Australia’s myGov platform using digital identity credential myGovID, which is expected to add face biometrics and liveness detection later this year. MyGov is an ecosystem that allows Australians access to several government services online, and the recent addition of the digital ID feature to the login options is seen as a milestone in efforts by the country’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in putting in place a more secure access system to the service.

The new feature was rolled out following a mid-year pilot in 2020 and at the time of reporting over 1.7 million Australians had already created a myGovID digital identity.

Before the rollout, it was possible to access the myGov platform using a two-factor login authentication option, and the novelty means there are now also no major worries about forgetting one’s login password.

With the new feature, it is possible for users who have connected the two platforms to sign into myGov using either a one-time code in the myGovID app or continue using a password. The myGovID login credential, the report adds, can also be used to access a beta version of myGov which is being trialled with new features and services to replace the one currently in use.

This development precedes plans by the DTA in adding a biometric liveness detection mechanism to myGovID so that it can allow people to have access to more confidential government services.

It was noted that a pilot for the liveness detection option is planned for September this year; and with it, an individual can have their identity verified by having selfie biometrics matched against an identity document held in a database. This will help prove that the person about logging onto myGov is a live person and is physically present, in a move that aims to stymie the creation of fraudulent digital IDs.

Moreover, Australia plans to put in place a law that ensures privacy safeguards regarding the digital ID new scheme, and that a huge sum of money has been set aside for the development and upgrade of the myGov platform.

According to the government website, digital Identity provides Australian people and businesses with a single, secure way to access government and other services online. The Digital Identity system includes everything from the policy and processes governing the system, to the technology and systems that allow it to work.

A secure Digital Identity replaces the need for multiple logins across a range of government services, making getting things done with government easier and faster.

The DTA is managing this whole-of-government program, delivering it in partnership with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Services Australia, Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The system will expand over time to include more government agencies and private sector organisations.

Creating and using a Digital Identity is voluntary and a personal choice. People can still access government services in other ways, such as on the phone or in-person at a government shopfront.

Australia’s Digital Identity system is made up of agencies, private sector businesses and systems working together to deliver a secure way to prove someone’s identity online to access services. It is governed by the Interim Oversight Authority.

The Digital Identity system includes 4 types of accredited participants:

  • Identity service providers– help you set up and manage your Digital Identity account. If you choose to create and use a Digital Identity, then your identity provider will be your gateway into the Digital Identity system. Face Verification Service and Document Verification Service are sometimes used by your identity service provider to verify your identity online. myGovID is the government identity provider. There will more as the system develops.
  • Attribute service providers– verify specific attributes relating to entitlements or characteristics of an individual (for example, that you have a particular qualification). The ATO’s Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) is an example of an attribute service provider.
  • Credential service providers– play a critical role in keeping the system secure and safe. They take care of all credentials such as passwords and other forms of access restrictions used in the system.
  • Identity exchange– acts like a switchboard, transferring information, with your consent, between relying parties, identity service providers and attribute service providers, in a way which is secure and respects your privacy.