Digital identity explained

18 October 2018

We know people want to be able to access a greater range of government services online.

They already enjoy the convenience of high-quality and secure digital services from their banks, shops and airlines.

Why shouldn’t government services be available in the same way and offer the same simplicity and convenience?

While many government services are already available online, some transactions cannot be completed over the internet because you still need to prove who you are in person.

A good example of this is applying for a tax file number or TFN.

You can find the application form on the ATO’s website, but you need to print it out and take it to a post office with your identity documents to get your identity verified.

You then post the form to the ATO and wait for up to a month to get your TFN.

Your digital identity will allow you to complete the entire process online, anytime of the day or night and without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

And the best thing will be that you’ll get your TFN within a matter of minutes.

We will be launching a pilot program later this month, which will enable a group of trusted users to test the experience for the first time.

Creating your digital identity

The first digital identity provider for government is known as myGovID.

myGovID is a simple and safe digital identity solution that will make it possible to prove who you are online. This means more services can be accessed without needing to visit a government shopfront.

This will also replace the multiple logins people have for different government agencies and services. Having a secure digital identity will make getting things done with government easier and faster.

Setting up a myGovID will take less than 10 minutes and will involve just a few steps using your digital device.

The first step is to provide your name, date of birth, mobile number and email address.

You will then be asked to do an online version of the 100 point ID check by providing details from your existing identity documents, such as your Australian driver’s licence, passport or Medicare card.

These details will be checked in a matter of seconds and your myGovID will be ready to use to access government services.

In order to access services that require a higher level of identity proofing, you will need to provide us with a photo – taken using the camera on your phone while you are using the app.

This simple selfie can then be checked for ‘liveness’ to ensure you are a real person and not someone simply holding a photo of you up to the camera.

Your myGovID will then be ready to access government services that require photo identification.

You will only need to complete these steps once to create your myGovID account.

After it is set up, all you will need to access online services is to log on to your myGovID and this will give you fast and easy access to the services you want to use.

Protecting your data

We have designed the system so that you will have control of your personal information at all times.

We have strong controls to protect your privacy.

myGovID will remember your name, date of birth, mobile number and email address, but will not store your personal identity documents or your photograph once your identity is confirmed.

myGovID also does not know what services you are accessing and services do not see your personal information. We call this the ‘double-blind exchange’.

Providing choice

Creating a digital identity is entirely your choice. If you prefer, you will still be able to phone or visit a government shopfront in person to do your business.

Over time, we plan to include other approved and accredited providers, such as state or territory governments or private sector organisations. This will allow you to choose how you create and prove your identity online.

It will also be your choice to share your information – or not – with the services you are accessing.

What next

We know that a digital identity needs to be secure and easy to use. That is why we are starting with a series of small pilot programs, rolling out in the months ahead.

A total of eight pilot programs will be completed by mid-2019. The first pilot will enable Australians to apply for a TFN online.

myGovID will make it possible for this entire process to be done online, reducing the waiting time for a TFN from a month to just minutes.

We know some of you will wonder why you can’t get a digital identity right now. The simple answer is that we want to make sure we get it right.

Running the pilot programs will enable us to ensure that the service is secure, reliable and meets your expectations.

What the future looks like

In the future, Australians will have the opportunity to access simple, clear and fast public services online with their digital identity.

Here is a glimpse of what this could look like for you.


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