Gov't commits $5.15m to examine digital identity

The Government has committed $5.15m to funding research into digital identity over two years.

Government Digital Services Minister Megan Woods said the two year work programme would be led by the Department of Internal Affairs and would look at how government could set up the right rules and environment, and take advantage of new technologies, to meet the evolving needs and expectations of citizens.

“At the heart of the proposal is better privacy and security protections for citizens’ identity data, with citizens firmly in control of what happens to their personal information," she said.

“This area is complex and changing rapidly - so it is important we get our approach right. Most countries and jurisdictions around the world are investing in approaches to digital identity that reflect their social licence, and I believe New Zealand should do the same."

The Government's announcement follows NZTech last week setting up Digital Identity NZ, a group of organisations and government agencies, to "connect everyone in New Zealand that cares about digital identity."

Also, a day earlier Spark announced it had become a founding steward of the Sovrin Network, a non-profit organisation that aims to give every person, organisation, and thing the ability to own and control their own permanent digital identity using distributed ledger technology.

Woods called for contributions to the research from a broad spectrum of individuals and organisations.

“It’s important we hear the views from across the country and from all walks of life to investigate what the future role of government should be in digital identity, and what innovative services the emerging private sector marketplace can offer," she said.

Health keeps quiet on digital identity

She gave no indication of what mechanism would be put in place to collect these views. Nor did she make any reference to a digital identity initiative launched last year by the Department of Health.

Access to the group's web page has been blocked but we were able to retrieve a version from 5 September via a Google cache. It said: "To ensure a nationally consistent approach to digital identity, we need to develop common architecture and standards. Digital identityhellip; [is] a core capability for the usage of any digital service."

It said also that a 'subject matter expert review group on Digital Identity was also being formed because "there is a lot of interest and expertise across the health sector in these particular health information standards."

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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