Australia should have its national digital identity scheme by mid-next year.

Digital IDs are meant to allow people to verify their identity for online services without repeated document submissions. 

With the introduction of the Digital Identity Bill 2023 to Parliament by Finance Minister Katy Gallagher, the government says it wants to extend the digital identity scheme beyond Commonwealth services, covering state, territory governments, and the private sector. 

Gallagher says the voluntary scheme will provide Australians with a secure and convenient option for online interactions with government and businesses, and there will still be a choice of providers and alternate channels for those unable or unwilling to obtain a digital ID. The legislation prohibits single identifiers, marketing data disclosure, and biometric use without consent.

The scheme, operational since 2015, previously lacked legislation, limiting users to myGovID for Commonwealth services.

To support the bill, the government announced a $145.5 million fund, with most allocated to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for regulatory functions. The ACCC will be designated as the Digital ID Regulator, overseeing compliance and enforcement. The rest of the funds are earmarked for the Attorney General’s Department, tech updates, an awareness campaign, and privacy enforcement. 

The Digital Identity Bill is now with the Senate Economics Legislation Committee. The bill aims for implementation by July next year, pending parliamentary approval.

More information is accessible here.