NZTech to promote digital identity for New Zealanders

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller said the organisation would promote the importance and potential of digital identity

NZTech – an umbrella organisation representing some 500 New Zealand technology organisations — has set up Digital Identity NZ, a group of organisations and government agencies, to "connect everyone in New Zealand that cares about digital identity."

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller said the organisation would promote the importance and potential of digital identity and work in partnership to promote open standards and policy that will allow innovation to thrive.

Digital Identity NZ describes itself as "a purpose driven, inclusive, membership funded organisation whose members have a shared passion for the opportunities that digital identity can offer."

Digital Identity NZ executive director Andrew Weaver said digital identity would bring many benefits to New Zealanders.

“Whether it is signing onto a website to buy something, visiting a hospital, paying a bill or getting a tax refund there are now hundreds of times a week people need some form of digital identity and there are so many ways of providing it," he said.

“That complexity can be challenging … and there are also questions of security, privacy and consent that are becoming increasingly important for us all to consider."

Weaver said it was important for all New Zealanders, companies and organisations to understand digital identity. "It not only prevents fraud; it's also about asserting who we are in this society. As we do more and more online, it is necessary to adapt how we enable people to claim who they are.”

He cited one example of digital identity as being Single Source, "a blockchain startup which recently partnered with Delta Insurance to provide a decentralised blockchain identity system."

However just the day prior, Computerworld reported that Spark had become founding steward of the Sovrin Network, a non-profit organisation that aims to give every person, organisation, and thing the ability to own and control their own permanent digital identity using distributed ledger technology.

Weaver said different countries were taking different approaches to digital identity, many of them to having digital identity based on a single government ID number.

"Estonia has issued every citizen a digital ID card since 2001, Japan and India also require you to use a single government number to access government services," he said.

He added: “While we have had RealMe in New Zealand for many years it is time to relook at whether a single centralised ID is the best approach in a world where people want ease of use and mobility at the same time as privacy and security."

"Most significant technology"

In a report earlier this year, security technology company Gemalto said Digital identity was "well and truly established as one of the most significant technology trends on the planet. It said five forces were shaping digital identity: more mobility; greater demand for security and trust; an accelerating shift towards smart cities; more calls for public supervision of digital identification systems; even more national ID card and eID programmes, national ID initiatives and implementations.

Australian initiatives

In Australia the Government has initiated a digital identity program will give Australian citizens and permanent residents a single and secure way to create a digital identity which can be used to access online government services. There will be multiple providers of this identity, one being myGovID, to be run by the Australian Taxation Office.

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