ATO taps iProov for myGovID face verification

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ATO taps iProov for myGovID face verification

Public beta planned for mid-year.

The Australian Taxation Office has finally settled on the crucial liveness detection solution for the government's myGovID digital identity credentialing app, with public trials now planned for July.

The national revenue agency selected UK-based facial verification company iProov to provide the software under a three-year, $10 million deal earlier this month, ending a six-month search.

The deal - the company’s first major federal government win - follows three years of liveness detection testing by the ATO and the Digital Transformation Agency, most of which was spent looking at an IDEMIA solution.

The crucial liveness detection component will enable myGovID, which has been publicly available on iOS and Android since October 2019, to become more than a digital equivalent of the 100 point ID check.

It will allow citizens to perform the proof-of-live test necessary to access government services at the highest level, identity proofing level three (IP3), while preventing the creation of fraudulent identities.

Under the government’s trusted digital identity framework (TDIF), IP3 required a “high confidence in the claimed identity and is intended for services with a risk of serious consequence from fraud”.

Such confidence will be required as the government plans for all of its services to be available through online channels by 2025.

The ATO, which manages myGovID on behalf of the government, told iTnews that iProov’s liveness detection software will be utilised as part of the myGovID biometric verification process.

iProov software was previously trialled alongside that of US-based based facial verification company FaceTec during an earlier liveness proof-of-concept last year.

“The introduction of IP3 to myGovID will include the development and testing of the vendor’s liveness detection software,” a spokesperson said.

The solution will allow an individual to perform a passive face biometric scan on their mobile device to verify their identity and confirm they are live and physically present.

The spokesperson said iProov was selected based on a value for money assessment that considered technical and risk factors, though wouldn’t indicate how many suppliers had been shortlisted.

While the contract is the company’s first major federal government win, iProov supports the Singapore Government's SingPass digital identity scheme, as well as identity programs at the UK Home Office and the US Department of Homeland Security.

iProov CEO Andrew Bud said the company was "honoured that the Commonwealth of Australia has entrusted us with such an important task - to secure the creation of digital identities against impersonation".

"We are delighted that the Australian government has chosen our unique combination of inclusivity and resilience, which is already trusted by governments worldwide to authenticate citizens," he said. 

New timing

The spokesperson also said the ATO had “commenced planning activities to test myGovID in the lead-up to a public release by mid-2021”, several months earlier than previously anticipated.

The ATO had previously said that a public beta of the app’s liveness detection component would not take place until September 2021.

A mid-2021 trial aligns with what DTA deputy chief executive officer Peter Alexander said during a hearing of the financial technology senate inquiry earlier this month.

“The current service is at IP2. So it's the 100-point ID without the biometric, but it's being used for services that that's acceptable for. The biometric is intended to be in public beta in July,” he said.

The government will spend $256.6 million on its digital identity system over the next two years, with the bulk of this to be spent by the ATO and Services Australia.

In addition to the liveness detection capability, the funding will be used to complete the integration of the myGovID credential on myGov, which occurred in December, and onboard additional services.

The DTA is also continuing to consult on the proposed laws for the digital identity ecosystem ahead of a planned whole-of-economy expansion.

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