Businesses should be enthusiatically supporting a government digital ID system to help address their cyber security challenges, outgoing NSW digital services minister Victor Dominello told a tech industry gathering in Sydney last Thursday.
Dominello was giving his final public speech as a minister when asked about the business benefits in his push for Australian governments to adopt digital IDs.
“You're sitting on a bank of PDFs of passports and drivers’ licences and don't have a secure cyber framework around that. Isn't that a contingent liability to think about? So organisations should be jumping onto this, to make sure they don't need to record it.
“We're already speaking to industry. For example, one of those use cases that will be gratefully using this are renters. I had the tenants union in New South Wales, in a room together with industry reps, and the Real Estate Institute.
“We showed videos of where we are now with the beta and it’s ready to roll, subject to legislation by the law this year. And they all want to be part of this – the renters because they don't want a copy of their passports and driver license going to twenty different real estate agents as they try to find a place to live. So, it's a huge risk for them.
“On the other side, the Real Estate institute is saying, ‘we can't afford for a cyber attack for our brand to be smashed’. So this de-risks and frees up business.”
The retiring minister's call to industry comes as the federal government mulls a national digital ID scheme as part of its response to last year's Medibank and Optus privacy breaches, a move Dominello endorsed while dismissing parallels with the abandoned Australia Card proposal of the 1980s.
"We can't allow some people that are misinformed to say 'this is back to the Australia Card debate'. The Australia Card debate took place in a world without the Internet," he stated.
"This is the opposite of the Australia Card, this is empowering individuals for tech and privacy, not the other way around and we need to make sure that we're advocates because that's true. This will strengthen our country."
Despite leaving politics at the upcoming NSW election, Dominello was as enthusiastic as ever about the benefits of government digital transformation, saying, “this is huge microeconomic reform on any scale, huge. Remember this conversation in five years time and see where we're at. It will be a different experience.”
Dominello was also effusive towards his interstate and federal colleagues, calling out commonwealth ministers Clare O’Neill, Bill Shorten and Katy Gallagher for the work they’ve been doing around digitising government services and in cyber security.
The key, Dominello believes, is in ensuring data formats are standardised across states, territories and federally so identities can be validated effectively.
“New South Wales will lead the way and Victoria will probably be the next cab off the rank, but it will become commonplace," he said.
“So basically, national corporations like Telstra, or the banks can say, all right, I can move into this with confidence knowing that everyone's going to be the same eventually.”
On his future moves, Dominello indicated he is going to remain in the tech industry saying, “I'm going to do some scuba diving and I've been approached by a number of universities, so they want to do something because I have so much scar tissue being in politics for the past twelve years. I'd like to give back to the tech sector.”
“My advice to the person that follows me – whoever it is – is ‘you do you’. I want to see what their vision is, their take on things. It's not for me tell them – there's nothing worse that a former minister telling them what to do.
"I will be standing outside in twenty-five days and I'll be part of the cheer squad saying 'please continue, please'.