The federal government has announced a $67 million boost for the controversial MyGovID initiative as it launches a new resource to guide agencies in the safe use of public data.
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is developing MyGovID, which will create a single digital identity that Australian citizens can use to access online government services through a single portal.
Under the system users will be required to take a photo and provide a mobile number and email address as well as details from a drivers licence, passport or Medicare card.
The government says the system will enable it to personalise and streamline services, but it has been trying to reassure critics who have raised concerns about privacy, security and potential misuse of the data.
Launching the Sharing Data Safely brochure at Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) ministerial forum in Canberra on Tuesday, digital transformation minister Michael Keenan said the resource would give the public confidence that individual data will be handled with integrity.
The brochure describes Australia’s data as “a significant national asset with the potential to inform policy development, evaluate programs, contribute to economic growth and support innovation”.
But government agencies are also responsible for keeping the data they store safe, the resource says, setting out key principles around appropriate sharing, security and maintaining privacy.
Full steam ahead for MyGovID
Mr Keenan, who is bowing out of politics at the next election after leading the government’s efforts at digital transformation for 15 years, said three MyGovID pilots involving the ATO, the Australian Business Register and grant management programs are underway and by the end of the year there will be eight.
He described digital identity as a “game changer and said the additional funds would allow the government to expand MyGovID and integrate it with the MyGov portal.
“This investment will enable us to continue to develop the system and fine tune the pilots before making them available to everyone,” he said.
The new funds come on top of $92 million allocated for MyGovID in last year’s budget.
“It’s easy to see how having one easy to use digital identity, no matter what you need from government, is going to have a enormous impact,” Mr Keenan told the luncheon.
“But people need to have confidence that this is being built with privacy and security.”
The ongoing development of a Trusted Digital Indentity Framework (TDIF), currently in the consultation, would help achieve this, he said.
Mr Keenan said since it began in 2013 MyGov had become the primary platform for Australians to interact with the government and today it has 15 million user accounts.
Mr Keenan said MyGov had demonstrated the power of digital platforms in simplifying service delivery. Integrating digital identity with MyGov was the next step, he added.
“The new funding will be used to further expand the eight pilots and enable the integration of the digital identity system with myGov.
“This will enable many Australians to chose a simple and secure way to provide who they are and access services conveniently and securely,” he said.
Data release and sharing legislation
The government is also developing new new data release and sharing laws that contain security and privacy safeguards, Mr Keenan told the National Press Club lunch, and the data sharing package released on Tuesday complemented that legislation.
“This will ensure we get the balance right between innovation and security privacy and the public benefit,” he said.
The government is also establishing a National Data Advisory Council to advise the National Data Commissioner on ethical data use, community expectations, technical best practice and industry and national developments.
“When data is used effectively it can enable better and more targeted services to be developed for those that need it most, boost economic enterprise and innovation and help us understand issues and matters of national interest,” the minister said.
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*Editor’s note: Government News previously quoted the minister as saying eight pilots would be operational by the end of the financial year. The Digital Transformation Agency has since corrected his comments to clarify they will be in place by the end of the year.