NSW to pilot digital identity verification for government services

Image: Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

Residents of the Australian state of New South Wales can now verify their identity online from anywhere for government services in a new pilot.

To use the identity verification pilot service, individuals will need to register through the Service NSW website or app and will be required to provide ongoing consent, which means they can opt out at any time.

“Photo verification will enable millions of customers to conduct government transactions anywhere, anytime or authenticate using a photo verification login,” said Damon Rees, CEO of Service NSW.

“This will provide customers with greater accessibility to government services, particularly customers with disabilities, time-poor customers and those in rural or regional areas, who are unable or find it difficult to travel to NSW service centres.

The new identity verification service comes months after NSW asked providers to provide two new digital identity systems: one to provide digital identity proof and one for digital identity sharing .

The technology, which is built into the Service NSW app, will work by matching a photo a user takes of themselves with a reference photo, such as a driving licence. The photo verification software then reads the geometry of the user’s face to decide if the verification is successful.

Once the images are successfully matched, the selfie and all verification data will then be “instantly and securely destroyed”.

Rees confirmed that Service NSW will not retain or permanently store any facial images of users who choose to use the service. Instead, only the government agency that originally collected a user’s personal information when issuing identity documents will hold the data, he said.

The new pilot follows the state government’s rollout of a service allowing drivers to register their vehicles digitally. According to the Minister of Customer Service and Digital Government, Victor Dominello, digital vehicle registration was developed because approximately 16% of registrations in the state were not renewed in time due to damaged and misplaced documents. .

Going digital has been high on the state agenda, with the New South Wales government announcing in November that it had started work on a new whole-of-government approach to digital identity. This new direction aims to give customers the ability to use digital credentials for various licenses, certifications, qualifications, and eligibility documents.

“The new digital services will be faster, more convenient and less expensive to use than paper or physical alternatives and will be less prone to tampering, misplacement or theft than physical documents,” Dominello said at the time. .

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Ashley C. Reynolds