On 30 August 2011, the Electronic Identity Verification Bill was introduced to Parliament. The purpose of the Bill is to regulate the administration and application of the Electronic Identity Verification Service (EIVS) which provides a method for individuals to be quickly, easily and securely identified by verifying their identity through the internet.
The Bill will allow individuals to access a range of services from authorised agencies where it is necessary for those agencies to have a degree of confidence in an individual's identity. To use the EIVS, certain personal information will be created and held by the service, which is operated by the Department of Internal Affairs. It will then be possible for the individual to authorise the release of the stored identity information to an authorised agency, which will then be verified using a code that is unique to that agency.
The purpose of this service is to allow people to avoid the costs and inconvenience of repeatedly having to prove their identity in person to different agencies and it will avoid the need for those agencies to invest in their own online identity verification infrastructure and capability. The service will provide a secure and consistent way for agencies to verify the identity of the person interacting with it while being user-focused and protective of individuals' privacy.
Explanatory notes to the Bill note that use of this service is optional and an individual will be free to continue to interact with agencies using other methods. The Bill allows individuals' personal information to be checked against that held on specified government registers and databases and against information held by public sector or private sector agencies that are listed in regulations for that purpose. Given the secure way an individual's information is used, the risks of other people impersonating that individual are reduced. Offences and penalties are created to deter abuse of the service while existing offences apply to the fraudulent use of a person's identity information in the same way as they would for the presentation of paper based forms of identification.