Facial recognition aspect of government’s digital identity program to begin public testing mid-2020

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday March 10, 2020


The facial recognition component of the Commonwealth’s myGovID app will likely begin public testing this year, according to the Digital Transformation Agency.

Last week chief digital officer Peter Alexander told Senate estimates the biometric feature of myGovID would need to be refined before public testing begins.

“We would like the biometric to be in by say mid-year, but we wouldn’t pressure that, we would get it right before we put it in, because it is new, it is taking a technology which is relatively well-tested,” he said.

He noted the technology would use “one-to-one” matching by verifying an individual’s face against an identity document such as a passport or driver’s license. The app would allow individuals to create a digital identity which would be used to access online government services.

CEO Randall Brugeaud said the DTA has been working through “technical issues” to ensure the quality of the facial recognition component is “exactly where it needs to be” before it is released publicly.

“The thing that we’ve been very considered on is the implementation of the biometric features to ensure that the facial verification service operates as expected,” he told estimates.

“It is operating as expected, but it is not production ready.”

READ MORE: Digital identity brand confusion: do you know your GovPass from your myGovID?

The myGovID digital identity program has spent the last nine months in public beta. Brugeaud said the app has been downloaded more than 492,000 times, with a total of 332,421 digital identities created.

The DTA hopes to move the app from public beta to live later this month. It will replace the ATO’s AUSkey — used to log in to the Australian Business Register — along with the digital identity system GovPass.

The app has been in the works for more than 18 months, but Alexander argued the importance of the project meant the amount of time taken was “reasonable”.

“This is a project and a program that is much more important to get right then to rush out — to rush to failure is not clever, to take our time and get it right,” he said.

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