The Australian Government is concerned with identity security because it is central to Australia’s national security, law enforcement and economic interests.
Government agencies and businesses rely increasingly on the credibility of a person's identity information as evidence of who they are during a transaction. This is particularly relevant as businesses and governments take advantage of the opportunities of the digital economy.
The effects of identity crime can be felt long after the crime has occurred and can be emotionally stressful. Victims of identity crime often find it very difficult to re-establish their identities.
Protecting your identity
The booklet ‘Protecting Your Identity’ contains information on how to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft and what to do if your identity has been stolen.
For tips to help you protect your identity, visit the Protecting your identity page.
More information about identity crime is also available on the Australian Federal Police website.
Trends in identity security
In June 2012, we commissioned a second annual nationwide survey into issues relating to identity theft. The survey sought to enquire into the level of concern, incidence and type of identity theft experienced by Australians. The research repeats a similar survey conducted in July 2011.
It shows that seven per cent of respondents had been a victim of identity crime in the previous six months. This is an increase from five per cent in 2011. The survey also showed that over half of those affected were targeted through the internet, either via a virus or an online scam. The independent online study was conducted by Di Marzio Research and surveyed 1200 people across Australia.
Who is responsible for identity security
Identity security is, by its nature, a responsibility that is shared across all parts of the Australian community.
Responsibility for identity security is a particular concern for those parts of the Australian, state and territory governments that handle the identity information of Australians. Any government agency that collects, stores or uses identity information, has a responsibility to ensure that their identity security measures are effective.
Australians use a variety of credentials to prove their identity. Most of these are issued by government agencies. These can include documents such as a driver licence, Medicare card, passport, birth certificate or a citizenship certificate. The responsibility for the security of each of these documents lies with the issuing agency, which may be issued by either a federal, state or territory agency.
Improving identity security
The Australian Government is working to improve identity security, combat identity crime and protect the identities of Australians.
Current areas of interest include:
National Identity Security Strategy
The National Identity Security Strategy is a Council of Australian Governments’ initiative designed to combat the misuse of stolen or assumed identities. It does this by laying out a nationally endorsed approach to identity security reform.
National Document Verification Service
The National Document Verification Service is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to protecting the identity of Australians. The service is a secure, electronic, on-line system that can be used to check, in real time, whether a document is accurate and up-to-date.
The Australian Government is working to improve biometric interoperability across government agencies. The government guides and controls how agencies use biometric information, such as fingerprints and facial scans. This can help national security and law enforcement agencies fight crime and protect the privacy of Australians.
Through the National Identity Security Strategy a number of standards and best practice guides have been developed and are available for government agencies, such as the Gold Standard Enrolment Framework. These aim to strengthen national arrangements at each point along the identity security continuum. These documents may also serve as a benchmark for the private sector.
For more information, visit the technical resources page.