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Legislation

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Digital ID legislation

On Friday 9 February, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiry into the bills of Digital ID Bill 2023 & Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023 was held.

With public submissions now closed, a report from the Committee is expected late February 2024.

On 30 November 2023, the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher, introduced into Parliament the Digital ID Bill 2023 and the Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023.

These bills will provide individuals with secure, convenient, voluntary and inclusive ways to verify their identity for use in online transactions with government and businesses.

The bill will:  

  • legislate and strengthen a voluntary Accreditation Scheme for digital ID service providers that wish to demonstrate compliance with best practice privacy, security, proofing and authentication standards
  • legislate and enable expansion of the Australian Government Digital ID System for use by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and eventually private sector organisations
  • embed strong privacy and consumer safeguards, in addition to the Privacy Act to ensure users are protected
  • strengthen governance arrangements for the Accreditation Scheme and the Australian Government Digital ID System, including by establishing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as the Digital ID Regulator, and expanding the role of the Information Commissioner to regulate privacy protections for digital IDs.  

For a quick summary of the Digital ID legislation and to download the factsheet, head to Digital ID Bill | Digital Identity.

To read the Bill introduced to Parliament, visit Digital ID Bill 2023 – Parliament of Australia (aph.gov.au)

Public consultation

The bills were informed by public consultation on an Exposure Draft of the Digital ID Bill in September and October 2023. The Department of Finance received 113 submissions about the Digital ID Bill, of which 88 agreed to be published. These submissions are available at 2023 Digital ID Bill and Rules submissions | Digital Identity.

Amendments to the legislation

A range of amendments to the Digital ID Bill were made following consultation. These include:

Strengthening the position that Digital IDs are for voluntary for government services  

  • Ensuring that Digital IDs are voluntary for individuals accessing government services, except where a person is acting on behalf of a business or in another professional capacity. In the exposure draft, entities providing services within the Australian Government Digital ID System could require the use of Digital ID if required by another law. This has been removed.  

Further safeguards over law enforcement access

  • Strengthening safeguards over law enforcement access to personal information held by accredited digital ID service providers, so that these agencies may only request access to information with consent, a warrant, or where court proceedings have begun. Previously entities could also disclose information to law enforcement if a law enforcement body reasonably suspected an offence.

Increasing penalties for breaches of the legislation

  • Increasing penalties for breach of privacy and other safeguards in the legislation by five times the amounts in the exposure draft.

Clarifying governance roles and responsibilities

  • Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Digital ID Regulator (to be the ACCC), the System Administrator for the Australian Government Digital ID System (to be Services Australia) and the independent Digital ID Standards Chair.

Tightening protections around attributes

  • Ensuring that certain types of information classified as prohibited attributes (such as racial or ethnic origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation) cannot be collected for use in accredited digital ID services. If this information is received in an unsolicited way, it must be destroyed as soon as practicable. In the exposure draft, this information was allowed to be collected if there was a reasonable excuse.  

Clarifying sharing of information between regulators

  • Making it clear that the Information Commissioner could disclose information to other regulators and complaint handling bodies as part of performing functions under the Digital ID Bill.

Penalties for falsely promoting accreditation status

  • Adding a new civil penalty provision, for an entity that states or implies it is accredited if it is not, or it is not accredited for those services. This is in addition to penalties in the exposure draft bill for the misuse of trustmarks to falsely claim that an entity is accredited. There is a similar new civil penalty provision for an entity falsely stating that it is participating on the Australian Government Digital ID System.  

Other issues

Consultation feedback raised other issues that can be addressed without further amendment to the Digital ID Bill. These include: how the phased expansion of the Australian Government Digital ID System would be implemented; the scope to use Digital IDs to meet customer identification requirements in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation; and how to maximise the inclusivity of Australia’s Digital ID System so that more people can access and reuse a Digital ID if they choose. The Government is continuing to consider these issues.

Rules

The Digital ID Bill provides for the Minister to make rules to set out details of the Accreditation Scheme and the Australian Government Digital ID System. Consultation on a draft version of these Accreditation Rules and Digital ID Rules was also held over September and October 2023. The consultation drafts of these Rules are available at: 

Feedback from this consultation process remains under consideration and will inform any changes to these Rules that are made to reflect amendments to the Digital ID Bill.

An updated draft of the Rules may be released for further consultation, subject to the Parliament’s consideration of the Digital ID Bill.  

Set it up once, and then reuse it whenever you are asked to prove who you are.

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