NSW government wants facial matching and verifiable credential tools for digital ID rollout

The state wants to give customers the option to apply or renew a licence or certificate without needing to be present in person.

The NSW government has announced it is working on a new whole-of-government approach towards digital identity aimed at giving customers the option to use digital credentials for various licences, certifications, qualifications, and eligibility documents.

Alongside the government's aspiration to roll out this approach, it has also expressed interest in procuring two new digital identity systems: One to deliver digital proof of identity and the other for digital identity sharing.

The NSW government envisions that the first system will have features such as facial matching and liveness detection to allow customers to easily provide their identity digitally for use cases such as renewing a licence or certificate.

"Imagine if you could also use your Service NSW app to prove your identity online and apply for or renew a licence or a certificate, such as a First Aid or Birth Certificate, with a few simple clicks anytime anywhere, without the need to be present in person?" the government said.

"This may all be possible in the future through digital wallets such as the Service NSW app. If you choose to securely store and use your digital identity and verifiable credentials in your Service NSW app, these will only be stored on your device."  

The second system, aimed at enabling digital identity sharing, would provide customer digital identity and verifiable credential capabilities for the purposes of credential validation and securely sharing identity across a variety of services.

Alongside these two tenders, the NSW government is seeking consultation on how it should approach providing digital identity services from a privacy, security, and use case standpoint.

"The new digital services will be faster, more convenient, and less costly to use than paper or physical alternatives and will be less prone to forgery, misplacement, or theft than physical documents," Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said.

"Trust, privacy, security and ethics will be at the core of the NSW Identity Strategy.

"Customers will also be able to avoid sharing more personal information than required, which can sometimes happen when a physical document needs to be provided."

He also said that the use of any new solutions arising from a new whole-of-government approach would be opt-in, and customers would be able to continue to use existing avenues for identification verification and applying for credentials.

The consultation period will last until the end of June 2020.

Outside of the proposed whole-of-government digital identity approach, Dominello said digital versions of seniors cards, working with children check renewals, and occupational and vocational licences would be rolled out sometime in 2022.

The announcement follows the government linking COVID-19 vaccination certificates to the Service NSW app last month. Prior to that, the Service NSW app could already be used by people to check into places and show various forms of identification.

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