NZ centralizes e-authentication for gov’t services

New Zealand’s government is to spend NZ$2.3 million (US$1.37 million) developing a centralized system for electronically authenticating users of public services.

The system will be developed over nine months, and follows a three-month consultation period during which the public was asked what their preferred authentication system was.

The decision has come down in favour of minimal information held – simply enough to enable the user to be securely identified – and a single government-run authentication point.

The public has clearly put security and privacy uppermost, said New Zealand State Services Minister Trevor Mallard, and the government has accepted this approach.

“We also got a strong message from the consultation that people want the authentication process handled by an appropriate government agency, rather than a private-sector organization,” said Mallard.

The consultation document had suggested that people might prefer to be authenticated through a local facility they personally trusted, such as their church.

The authentication road map is intended to ensure that government agencies can work in smoothly with the intended approach. The system is intended to proceed to development and implementation early next year.

Several options for authentication were put forward for public consideration earlier this year. Choice centred on whether a single centralized authentication hub, several independent authentication providers or authentication separately at each agency was to be provided, and on how much personal information might be stored at the authentication hub for transmission to the agency.

Storing some data enables online forms to be partly pre-filled.