Govt is to establish a Digital Identity Trust Framework in law – and it will support Tikanga Maori

Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s pre-budget speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce this morning had not been posted on the Beehive website when we checked to prepare our first post of the day.

We turned therefore to the newspapers.

The NZ Herald highlighted news that the allocation of almost $1 billion for the Covid-19 response last year was never spent and Robertson has put it back into the Covid fund to spend on the recovery.

He said Budget 2021 would be a “recovery Budget”.

And he announced he will be heading a new unit in the PM’s department that was responsible for ensuring delivery on the Government’s priorities such as mental health, infrastructure, climate change, and housing.

At Stuff, the emphasis was put on Robertson’s warning that while New Zealand exports are getting out to the world, “supply chain issues” will continue to affect the country for the rest of this year and potentially into 2022.

This report said

He also flagged a Productivity Commission inquiry into immigration, announced on Monday, as an opportunity “to have a mature debate about immigration, its positives and negatives.

Was that news?  We thought Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said much the same thing when he announced the inquiry.

What we did find on the Beehive website was –

  • State Owned Enterprises Minister David Clark’s expression of sadness at hear about the death of KiwiRail Chairman Brian Corban.
  • The announcement (given a fair airing in the media) that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown have announced that, pending final confirmation by New Zealand’s Director-General of Health and the Cook Islands Secretary of Health, two-way quarantine-free travel will commence between the two countries on 17 May (NZT).
  • A speech by Digital and CommunicationsMinister David Clark on the Digital Identity Trust Framework.

There was an element of grandstanding in Clark’s speech:

The Digital Economy and Communications portfolio is new, but incredibly important to this government.

When I was appointed, the Prime Minister was very deliberate in setting out her expectations and has keen interest in the opportunities ahead.

She outlined how vital it is that we pull together the digital work across government.

So, I feel there is a strong mandate to be ambitious when mapping New Zealand’s digital future.

As part of my role, I am chairing the new Digital Ministers’ Group, where I’m closely working with my ministerial colleagues to forge the overarching vision:

The Digital Strategy for Aotearoa will enable us to build a world-class digital nation that improves the lives of all New Zealanders and supports our transition to a low emissions economy.

The speech also showed the digital industry had better get a good grip on te reo:

Clark said:

Our Strategy has three pillars:

    • Mahi tika (trust)
    • Mahi tahi (inclusion)
    • Mahi ake (growth).

Why not say the strategy has three pillars – trust, inclusion and growth?

Good question.  Maybe because the strategy writer is being paid by the word.

The speech did have news about upcoming legislation  worth sharing with Point of Order readers.

Clark discussed something “which I haven’t really spoken about publicly much”.

He was referring to the Government’s work on digital identity.

He recalled research carried out by Digital Identity New Zealand in 2019 which indicated that 79 per cent of New Zealanders are concerned about the protection of their identity and use of personal data by organisations.

To date, the digital identity environment has lacked consistent standards, making it difficult to provide genuine and secure solutions.

Without these solutions, people will continue to face difficulties sharing information about themselves.

They are also more exposed to risks including online fraud and other privacy breaches.

Clark said the business community has told Government that interoperability, innovation and collaboration on digital identity services has been difficult without a clear, consistent and coordinated approach.

Accordingly, and without anyone to give him a drum roll, he announced that the Government has approved proposals to establish a Digital Identity Trust Framework in law.

The legislation will ensure that everyone is clear on their rights and obligations.

It will do this by setting out how that information should be handled by private and public Trust Framework participants.

I am bringing this Bill to Parliament as I can see the benefits it will bring to New Zealanders, businesses, and to government.

It will mean kiwis who need to share information about themselves can do so on their terms, with peace of mind about the security of said information. 

Among the benefits, the Trust Framework will make it easier for individuals to prove their qualifications, and to start new jobs without needing to show documents in-person.

Businesses will save time and money because they will be able to spend less time handling physical copies of documentation.

This Trust Framework will give the tech sector a solid reference for how they can innovate and grow – while being interoperable and trustworthy.

The Framework will be recognised overseas, including places like Australia. As a result, kiwis will be able to digitally share information about themselves in a far more efficient way.

And no, the government has not forgotten the role the Treaty of Waitangi – signed back in 1840 – should play in pushing New Zealand into the digital economy.

Clark declared he is committed to ensuring that the digital identity system reflects Māori perspectives.

Put simply, identity means different things to different people and cultures.

That’s why, my officials are engaging extensively with iwi to deliver this framework in a way that supports tikanga Māori.

He hopes to introduce the Bill later this year and will consult with you to ensure that we create a consistent digital identity system that promotes trust in how New Zealanders share their information.

Latest from the Beehive

Speech on Digital Identity Trust Framework

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