The NSW Government is leading the way when it comes to digital service delivery.
One of the significant challenges facing all governments is an increasingly complex cyber security environment.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission rates identity crime as a key enabler of serious and organised crime, costing Australia $36b annually.
One of the ways to enhance your cyber security and protect your personal information is by setting up a digital identity using photo verification technology. This technology uses Photo-ID you already have, to verify who, you are. Photo verification can only be initiated by you, not by the government, and one-to-many face matching, such as crowd surveillance, will not be possible.
More than two million Australians are already using photo verification through the federal government’s MyGov ID to complete online transactions with the Australian Taxation Office and Services Australia, making these services more accessible, and safer for customers.
Many private sector organisations are also using photo verification technology to reduce the impact of identity theft.
NSW is ready to commence the journey to provide customers with an option for photo verification. Customer choice, informed consent and privacy protections are built into the digital identity service, so that you are always in control.
To ensure your best interest is at the heart of any online service using photo verification, I have assembled industry experts from across Australia to be part of a Digital Identity Ministerial Advisory Council. I have regular meetings with these experts to ensure personal privacy and security are enshrined in the design of all policy and digital identity services.
We have also consulted with the NSW Privacy Commissioner who has reviewed the overall program and was in support of it being entirely opt-in. We are continuing consultation with the Commissioner and the Information and Privacy Commission regarding all aspects of the program, including photo verification, to ensure privacy remains at the centre of any services we design for you.
When you take and submit a selfie of yourself during the photo verification process, the image will undergo one-to-one matching. This means your selfie will only ever be compared to your reference photo, such as your driver licence photo. As soon as the check is completed, the selfie will be destroyed.
Photo verification will always be entirely voluntary and will be opt-in only. This will protect your safety, the safety of your personal information and promote inclusion for those in regional areas and convenience for those who prefer to transact with the government online.
We will also retain our existing services via our Service NSW Service Centres to ensure you always have a choice not to use photo verification if you do not want to.
Acknowledging how important it is that we put our children’s safety first, the NSW government will begin with the photo verification pilot for our Working with Children Check renewals.
Selected individuals will be invited to use the system to complete this commonly used government transaction without the need to physically attend a Service NSW Service Centre. The pilot will be evaluated thoroughly to ensure the processes and technology are simple, secure, and safe. Formal roll out will only occur if the pilot passes the rigorous testing.
The photo verification process that will be piloted, will be fully compliant with the data protection safeguards established in the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.
We will only decide whether to proceed with a state-wide rollout after we receive learnings from the pilot. I commit to ensuring that protections will be enacted before proceeding to any side-wide rollout. I also give a cast iron guarantee that legislative protections will be enacted before proceeding to any state-wide rollout.
The non-negotiable protections to be set out in the legislation will include:
- Access by authorities will be limited to instances of very serious crime only
- Be subject to additional controls such as authorisation by a sitting NSW judge
- Regular independent, full, published audit and
- Severe penalties for misuse.
I will continue to champion for the community to have a say through our public consultations as well as through a range of governance and industry forums.
The Hon Victor Dominello MP
Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Minister for Small Business and Minister for Fair Trading.