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Security around personal data a growing concern for Kiwis

New Zealand is striving to create an inclusive digital identity environment, with growing awareness leading to greater potential for the development of a Digital Identity framework.

Digital Identity New Zealand (DINZ) executive director Andrew Weaver says “Aotearoa New Zealand has a golden opportunity, now at the start of a new decade, to demonstrate a truly inclusive digital identity environment.”

Weaver says he is already seeing interest in what is being done here, from neighbours in the Pacific, countries such as Canada and multinational technology firms.

According to DINZ, New Zealanders consider personal information to be data from areas such as a drivers licence or passport, transactions, contact details, names and addresses, employment details, online browsing, marital status, loyalty card usage, demographic details, photos and videos uploaded, date from apps, social media activity and posts and heritage and ancestry.

A total of 79% of New Zealanders are concerned about the protection of their identity and use of personal data by organisations, according to a DINZ survey.

Weaver says there is a public concern and some frustration about how their personal data is shared online. Change in behaviour is occurring, the survey shows, with 73% of Kiwis claiming to have made a change to their online behaviour because of privacy concerns.

Kiwis are also seeking greater transparency and control, however seven out of 10 say it’s currently too hard to protect their identity and data online.

Barriers to control of personal data exist. The survey found 85% of respondents said there was a lack of transparency, as well as concern in having to share data with so many organisations.

Additionally, only one in 20 New Zealanders have a fully satisfied experience with registering new accounts and nine out of 10 New Zealanders find the idea of being more in control of their digital identity appealing.

“Digital identity is a powerful tool that can enhance privacy, reduce risk and massively increase productivity for people and for organisations,” Weaver says.

While the idea of a portable and reusable means of identification is simple and elegant, the collaborative mechanisms that sit behind it are not, he says.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand there is a growing awareness of the enabling potential of a well-designed Digital Identity framework, and in 2020 that awareness will start to translate into action, says Weaver.

This year will see the work of the government’s digital identity transition programme inform tactical and strategic activity related to interaction with government agencies, the future of RealMe and the development of a trust framework that recognises and supports a collaborative digital identity ecosystem for New Zealand.

Weaver says, “We will continue to see communities push back on invasive and murky methods of advertising and monetisation of personal information.

“We are currently operating in an environment of low trust, if not mistrust. Tech companies in particular are realising that offering customer meaningful choice when it comes to privacy is no longer an optional extra."

He says, “At Digital Identity NZ, we have returned again and again to the touchpoint of identity as taonga, recognising that personal information is to be treasured and treated with dignity and respect. This paradigm shift is the genesis of trust.”

Organisations which genuinely promote and respect individual and community information will be the success stories of the 2020s, according to Weaver.

He says, “Digital identity solutions, built for everyone are built by everyone, is the motto of Women in Identity. In Aotearoa New Zealand, we have an amazing array of entrepreneurs, social enterprises, academics and iwi organisations working in digital identity.

“The enduring beauty and wisdom of whakapapa and whanaungatanga demonstrated in Te Ao Maori is a model applicable to all communities and is a critical component of digital identity in our country."

“While we still have a way to go to enable a fully functional digital identity ecosystem, 2020 will welcome the emergence of collaborative solutions that will enable people to take control of their identity information and reduce the painful friction associated with many of our current online interactions," Weaver says.