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New Zealand Safeguards Citizens’ Digital Identities

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New Zealand has completed the third and final reading of the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework Bill. The move will empower New Zealanders to safely and easily prove who they are digitally.

The Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, Ginny Andersen, stated that the government recognises that citizens want control over their identity information. They want to know how their information is used by the companies and services they share it with. The Bill will help make that process easier.

According to the Minister, whether it is opening a bank account, sharing medical history, conducting business online, or applying for government services, it is vital that the citizens trust the systems available for their use, and that service providers know what is expected of them. The digital identity landscape currently lacks uniform standards. This bill proposes a novel regulatory framework that will establish a structure for providing reliable digital identity services.

With the introduction of a ‘trust mark’ recognising accredited businesses, the framework will simplify the process of verifying digital identity by enabling only eligible entities to access streamlined procedures, Andersen explained. Fundamentally, this legislation aims to provide New Zealanders with more options. It is an opt-in system, and individuals will retain the ability to request services through traditional means such as in-person, over the phone, or by presenting physical credentials to verify their identity during application processes.

Importantly, the sharing of information among government departments will remain unchanged. Additionally, the Bill includes particular provisions to ensure that te ao Maori perspectives on identity are taken into account in the governance and decision-making of the framework.

Andersen said that this framework will reinforce New Zealand’s reputation as an ethical pioneer in the responsible implementation of technology worldwide. With a history of ethical innovation, this framework will enhance the country’s standing as an advocate for trustworthy technological advancements.

As reported by OpenGov Asia earlier, citizens have become increasingly concerned about online security. As per a survey, more than half of those who utilised their personal information on the Internet were extremely or very concerned about the safety of their data. Online crime, personal data security, cyber-bullying, and privacy risks were also among the top worries expressed by respondents. Therefore, the new framework will boost trust and reduce concerns around cyberspace.

To regulate and exploit the benefits of an increasingly digital world, the government recently launched the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa and its first Action Plan. When inaugurating the strategy, the government noted that the adoption of digital technologies has contributed significantly to the country’s economic growth and these technologies can also strengthen economic resilience and help communities stay connected.

The Digital Economy and Communications Minister explained that the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa represents the government’s commitment to helping the country reach its full potential in the digital age. It will create momentum for achieving higher value jobs, globally successful businesses that are sustainable, and exports that have a lower emissions footprint. It sets targets to have fewer cyber incidents than comparable countries, high-speed internet for all, and the digital and ICT sector on track to becoming the country’s leading export earner.

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