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Public Administration News  
New Zealand Clears Way to Secure Online Identity
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: New Zealand
Created: Dec 17, 2012

New legislation passed by New Zealand Parliament will make it easier and safer for companies and government agencies to offer services on-line.

Amendments to the Electronic Identity Verification Act, passed 11th December 2011, will enable the public and private sector to better verify people using services over the internet.

These changes, expected to become operational in early 2013, are supported by an integrated on-line RealMe service that is being fast-tracked in the New Year.

This service enables government service delivery providers and private sector entities to verify that a person using a service over the internet is who he or she claims to be.

This RealMe service is being offered jointly by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and New Zealand Post. The initiative is designed with data security and privacy as its top priorities.

When fully operational, end-users will have full control over their personal information – including name, date of birth, gender, and address.

Fiona Mullacrane, DIA’s general manager for service delivery operations, says verified RealMe accounts are being built on the agency’s existing well-tested igovt services.

End users of RealMe will only need to show up in person once every five years to set up and maintain their RealMe account. “They get a biometric photo taken at a PostShop. We do some data checking and get their RealMe account going soon after that.”

Using the RealMe service, people will gain access to more on-line products and services from government agencies and organisations, including banks and insurance companies.

Mandy Smith, the head of agency services (PostShop) for New Zealand Post, says the RealMe service delivers a high degree of certainty that people are who they say they are when they contact a participating company electronically.

“Currently, the most an organisation usually knows about its on-line contacts is that they have a valid username and password; you still can’t be sure that they are who they claim to be,” she says.

“There’s a massive amount of business that would happen on-line if only the service could be certain of the identity of the person on the other side of the online transaction. RealMe fully responds to this clear business need.”

The RealMe service improves the overall customer experience. These improvements stem from a simpler, secure, and straight-through processing of transactions.

There will also be “less hanging around in queues, and robust mitigation against identity theft,” according to New Zealand Post’s Mandy Smith.

Among its benefits, RealMe also helps financial institutions comply with identity verification requirements in the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act. This law is expected to come into effect at the end of June 2013.
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