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Australian government seeking digital identity credential-proofing

A request for tender from the ATO has detailed the government's plans to find a vendor to deliver the identity and credential proofing element of its AUSid solution.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is aiming to provide everyone in Australia with a digital identity, expected to make the process of proving who an individual is to government "simple, safe, and secure" online, with the idea to create a "tell us once" approach to government service delivery.

The platform was revealed last week during Senate Estimates as being in final beta stage, with the next step to take it live and the first service transaction being the process of applying for a tax file number.

The federal government detailed what its digital identification solution will look like in a video posted on YouTube last October.

To register for a Govpass, citizens will need to enter a handful of personal details, such as their email address, mobile number, and a "backup" email address, with the authentication process jumping between both text message and email validation.

Medicare card details, as well as driver's licence or birth certificate information are also required, either by entering the information into an online form or uploading a photograph of the government-issued identification document.

The final step of registering for a Govpass requires the applicant to take a photo using their phone's camera or computer's webcam.

On Wednesday night, a request for tender (RFT) published by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) revealed it was looking for a vendor to help it deliver its identity proofing and credential solution (AUSid), namely the optical character recognition (OCR) element.

AUSid will sit alongside the Govpass solution.

The ATO requires an OCR solution that allows the client to scan their identity document using the device's camera and pre-fill the fields required to verify the attributes using a Document Verification Service (DVS).

"The OCR technology will assist in streamlining the process of proving a client's identity using AUSid," the ATO wrote in the RFT. "Whilst assisting in the process of proving your identity, functionality would also assist in detecting fraudulent or altered identity documents."

According to the timeframes set out in the RFT, the ATO wants the beta version of the verification platform out somewhere between September and December this year.

The chosen solution will be required to perform a document verification check on driver's licences from all states and territories, Australian passports, and Medicare cards.

Although not flagged as mandatory by the ATO, the solution must also be able to validate birth certificates, international passports, citizenship certificates, immigration cards, change of name certificates, and marriage certificates.

It must be able to pre-fill attributes collected and allow users to edit before submitting for verification; must not store images of identity documents scanned; and must be hosted within ATO infrastructure.

At present, the Attorney-General's Department runs the DVS, used by organisations to confirm the validity of identification documents.

Equifax -- which is still dealing with the aftermath of a vast data breach that led to the theft of personal, sensitive information belonging to roughly 147.9 million Americans, as well as some Canadian and British nationals -- is one of the gateway service providers for the DVS.

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