Phase 3 of Australia’s Digital Identity legislation
The submission to the Digital Transformation Agency in response to Phase 3 of Australia’s Digital Identity consultation, notably the exposure draft of the Trusted Digital Identity Bill 2021 (the Draft Bill) was prepared by the Law Council of Australia.
The Draft Bill proposes to establish a Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) and an accompanying accreditation and onboarding regime for participants of the TDIF. The TDIF is intended to provide individuals with a simple and convenient method for verifying their identity in online transactions with government and businesses.
The Law Council accepts that many paper or card-based services will inevitably undergo digital modernisation in the coming years. However, the establishment of digital identities is a highly sensitive proposal and must be implemented with careful consideration. The Law Council acknowledges that a TDIF provides considerable efficiency gains through the use of a secure and centralised accreditation system, particularly where the collection of information is limited to that which is absolutely necessary and proportionate safeguards are implemented, including the timely deletion of unnecessary information.
However, the Law Council considers that participation in the TDIF should be voluntary and that non-digital systems for identity verification must also be maintained. The use of data under the TDIF must also be sufficiently transparent to enable users to provide informed consent, as well as withdraw enduring consent once it has been provided.
Finally, the TDIF will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the way citizens interact with the Australian Government and other accredited entities, and the Law Council expresses some concern with the compressed timeframe for consultation on the Draft Bill, particularly as initial considerations for a Digital Identity Framework began in 2015. The Law Council will likely take the opportunity to further engage with the measures prior to or once they progress to Parliament.