Govt fails to deliver identity review after two years

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Govt fails to deliver identity review after two years

As identity crime climbs $1.1bn.

The federal government is sitting on a major review it commissioned two years ago to explore better ways to protect and manage the identity information of Australians.

The review of national arrangements for the protection and management of identity information was launched in October 2018 to inform the government’s next identity strategy.

Led by former Attorney-General’s Department secretary Roger Wilkins, it was to determine how to strengthen the government’s protection and management of identity information.

One focus area was how identity documents and credentials that are “most commonly relied upon as evidence of a person’s identity” are issued, used and managed.

The review was expected to take just two months to complete, though this was subsequently pushed out by another six months, with the final report handed to government in mid-2019.

But more than a year has now passed since the review was completed, and the government is still waiting to publicly release its findings or any of the public submissions.

It is also two years since the review officially kicked off. In that time, the cost of identity crime in Australia has risen from $2 billion to $3.1 billion a year. 

The Department of Home Affairs told iTnews the review “remains under consideration” and will inform a future national identity strategy, though it would not comment on any particulars.

“The government is committed to protecting Australians from identity crime and to making it easier for people to verify their identities when accessing government and other services,” the spokesperson said.

The government's current identity strategy has not been updated since 2012.

The spokesperson also would not say whether delays to the passage of the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 had impacted the release of the review.

The laws, which will make way for the proposed facial biometrics matching scheme, stalled in October 2019 after a bipartisan parliamentary committee ordered a rewrite.

Earlier this week, the government committed a further $256.6 million towards the Govpass digital identity system - more than doubling its investment over the past five years.

Despite more than $210 million spent on the system to date, there have been problems integrating the myGovID credential with the government services portal myGov.

The Australian Taxation Office is also to decide on the anti-spoofing software, or ‘liveness solution’ that will underpin myGovID and prevent the creation of fraudulent identities. 

The software will also allow myGovID users to access more confidential services that require a higher identity proofing level.

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