NZ Post and DIA developing single sign-on for business

RealMe will let users login to public and private organisations using a managed account

New Zealand Post is developing a new service which will let New Zealanders login to government and corporate websites using a single sign-on identity.

RealMe is a partnership between NZ Post and the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), and will be announced at the 2012 Identity Conference in Wellington this week. NZ Post is managing the private sector uptake, while the DIA is managing government involvement.

Users sign up for the service by going to their local Post Shop with identification and have their photo taken for the system. NZ Post says this information is not held by the organisation, and is instead forwarded to the DIA for verification.

Once verified, RealMe users will be able to login with a single managed account for government agency services like the census, benefits, passport renewals, and registering to vote.

Eventually the system will allow for private businesses to offer RealMe as a login option. Peter MacKenzie, general manager of identity and data services at the DIA, says businesses will find the verification process an attractive offering.

“Organisations will be able to offer more online services using RealMe, safe in the knowledge that the person is who they say they are,” says MacKenzie.

The New Zealand government already has a single sign-on system called igovt. Since becoming available in 2006, over 400,000 logins have been requested, although only around 1,100 have used the identify verification service. The DIA says it is unable to comment whether people using igovt will be able to consolidate their login into the RealMe account, or if it will be separate.

The single sign-on raises questions about the security and use of the data collected against a person’s profile. For instance could an insurance agency collect information from your government or health records to adjust your premiums?

The DIA claim RealMe will not become a databank of people’s personal information. The Privacy Commissioner is working alongside NZ Post and the DIA on this project.

“Protecting people’s confidentiality and privacy is our top priority,” says Mandy Smith, head of agency services at NZ Post.

There is no set launch date yet, but a spokesperson for the DIA has said it could take up to 12 months. RealMe relies on the passing of the Electronic Identity Verification Bill which is currently before Parliament.

Neither NZ Post or the DIA have announced which organisations will offer RealMe, saying more information will be available when the service launches.

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