Bill opens govt ID checks to private sector

Aims to bolster ability of banks to target identity fraud and money laundering

Private organisations as well as public-sector agencies will be able to verify the identity of a member of the public and a limited range of information held about them on government databases if a bill tabled in Parliament yesterday is passed.

The Identity Information Confirmation Bill aims to reduce identity fraud and money laundering by allowing an organisation such as a bank to check the data on an identity document presented to them against government records.

The matching procedure used, known as the Data Validation Service, has been trialled within government and earlier this year Cabinet approved its use by private sector organisations who apply to use it and are judged to meet appropriate security and privacy standards.

The data validation transaction will be able to check that information provided by the subject matches that in official records, that the identity document is still valid (for example a passport has not been cancelled) and that the person identified is not recorded as dead. A common form of identity theft is to assume the identity of a deceased person.

Matching will be confined to information recorded under the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995, Citizenship Act 1977 and Passports Act 1992.

"Any agency using this tool must have the consent of customers," says Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy; "it is up to individuals whether or not to give permission [to perform a check]. The tool only confirms whether the information provided by customers is accurate and does not give out any additional information about the person."

Private sector agencies currently have only limited ability to check whether the identity information presented to them by members of the public is correct, says the preamble to the bill. For example, although there is open access to the births, deaths marriages and relationships register an individual application has to be made in each case and a fee is charged (for example $26 for a copy of a birth certificate).

Under the contemplated new legislation, fees will be agreed between the user organisation and the validation service and will be set at a level that does no more than meet the cost of providing the service.

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Tags governmentprivacylegislation

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