Australia has ditched the idea of building a single digital identity system, going instead for a federated model.

The Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, noted at the Teach Leaders conference in New South Wales last month that “We don’t see ourselves as creating a centralised solution that we’ll roll out and everybody else has to come and play – that’s not the answer,” The Register reported.

“We do need to agree on standards, and we do need to agree on principles as to how this will work,” he added. These standards will be set by the Digital Transformation Agency.

Much like online verification system Gov.UK Verify, private sector vendors may come in and be certified by the government to do the actual verification online.

Taylor said that the system had to be “user-driven rather than top-down”, and that “citizens’ consent is crucial”, the report said. He also remarked that the government considers that having multiple digital identities for government interactions is a “citizen’s right”.

Taylor went on to add that the system must be “user-driven”: “If I want to have 45 identities across the Internet and across my applications, it should be my choice. If I want to have one, that’s my choice too.”

According to the report, a formal announcement about the future of the federated identity project is expected “in the very, very near future”.

Identity cards were a controversial issue in Australia in the 1990s, where they were hotly debated and ultimately rejected by the population.

Britain is another country which rejected a single identity programme and had to turn to a federated system instead.

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