I’d like to start by thanking Graeme, David and Ben from NZTech and Digital Identity New Zealand for inviting me to speak to you.
I’m so sorry I can’t be there in person, but I want to acknowledge those of you who are, including some of this country’s top tech leaders, and those who provided input to the Digital Identity Trust Framework.
Thank you for your support.
The Digital Economy and Communications portfolio is new, but incredibly important to this government.
When I was appointed, the Prime Minister was very deliberate in setting out her expectations and has keen interest in the opportunities ahead.
She outlined how vital it is that we pull together the digital work across government.
So, I feel there is a strong mandate to be ambitious when mapping New Zealand’s digital future.
As part of my role, I am chairing the new Digital Ministers’ Group, where I’m closely working with my ministerial colleagues to forge the overarching vision:
The Digital Strategy for Aotearoa will enable us to build a world-class digital nation that improves the lives of all New Zealanders and supports our transition to a low emissions economy.
Our Strategy has three pillars:
Mahi tika (trust)
Mahi tahi (inclusion)
Mahi ake (growth).
Let’s talk about trust first.
Mahi Tika (Trust) is critical for government and businesses as we build confidence in new processes and technology.
We know proactive uptake of technologies will only happen when people trust the information they part with online, is being safely handled.
We already have an advantage here in New Zealand.
Research conducted with New Zealanders in 2020 highlights that a majority of participants trusted local websites with their identity information more than other websites.
It’s reiterated globally too, as kiwis have a reputation of being straight-shooters, who are transparent and true to their word.
Mahi Tahi (Inclusion) is another priority.
We need to make sure we bring everyone along on this digital journey.
This means we need to look at the four key barriers to inclusion: motivation, access through affordability and accessibility, skills, and trust.
Access to online is critical and an area Government has already invested.
For example, the $21 million funding for Regional Digital Hubs in towns to connect local people and businesses to digital services.
Thanks to significant spend by successive governments, 84 percent of Kiwis now have access to ultra-fast broadband.
This includes towns like Matapouri, Paparoa, Hunterville, Kaniere, Amberley, and Luggate – all of which were connected in January this year.
By the end of 2023, 99.8 percent of New Zealand’s population will have access to improved broadband.
And in rural communities, 60,000 homes and businesses have better broadband thanks to the Rural Broadband Initiative.
Mahi Ake (Growth) is about ensuring that we are well positioned to reap the rewards of being a digital nation.
It’s about getting a bigger piece of the pie for New Zealand.
Aotearoa has a vibrant and growing tech sector, which is creating high value jobs and generating weightless exports to the world.
We don’t yet have perfectly reliable data about the size of the sector. But, we do have good data about some parts of it.
The gaming sector is growing 42 percent year on year, and each job in that sector is worth around $400-thousand each in export returns.
Few sectors in New Zealand could make these kind of claims.
The wider ICT sector now employs more than 60,000 people, with salaries well above the NZ average.
The sector is vital for our GDP and has the potential to become even larger as it does not face natural resource limits.
International studies believe the benefit of digital identity to an economy, equates to around 0.5 to 3 percent of GDP.
That works out to be about $1.7 to 9.6 billion dollars in benefit.
DIGITAL IDENTITY TRUST FRAMEWORK
I do want to discuss something today, which I haven’t really spoken about publicly much.
And that is, the Government’s work on digital identity.
It’s a crucial enabler to the three pillars I mentioned earlier.
We all know that with great opportunity comes great challenge and risk.
In the digital space, keeping people safe while they access online services is key.
You may remember research carried out by Digital Identity New Zealand in 2019 which indicated that 79 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about the protection of their identity and use of personal data by organisations.
To date, the digital identity environment has lacked consistent standards, making it difficult to provide genuine and secure solutions.
Without these solutions, people will continue to face difficulties sharing information about themselves.
They are also more exposed to risks including online fraud and other privacy breaches.
The business community has told Government that interoperability, innovation and collaboration on digital identity services has been difficult without a clear, consistent and coordinated approach.
That is why, without further ado, I am pleased to announce today that the Government has approved proposals to establish a Digital Identity Trust Framework in law.
COVID-19 has shown us that when face-to-face interactions prove difficult, we need trusted digital services.
The Government is committed to enhancing trust and confidence in how organisations handle personal and business identity information.
The legislation will ensure that everyone is clear on their rights and obligations.
It will do this by setting out how that information should be handled by private and public Trust Framework participants.
I am bringing this Bill to Parliament as I can see the benefits it will bring to New Zealanders, businesses, and to government.
It will mean kiwis who need to share information about themselves can do so on their terms, with peace of mind about the security of said information.
For example, the Trust Framework will make it easier for individuals to prove their qualifications, and to start new jobs without needing to show documents in-person.
Businesses will save time and money too as they will be able to spend less time handling physical copies of documentation.
This Trust Framework will give the tech sector a solid reference for how they can innovate and grow – while being interoperable and trustworthy.
The Framework will be recognised overseas, including places like Australia. As a result, kiwis will be able to digitally share information about themselves in a far more efficient way.
I am committed to ensuring that the digital identity system reflects Māori perspectives.
Put simply, identity means different things to different people and cultures.
That’s why, my officials are engaging extensively with iwi to deliver this framework in a way that supports tikanga Māori.
In conclusion, a trusted modern digital identity system will help grow our digital economy, transform government services and ensure all New Zealanders can take part in the digital world.
This mahi will help position NZ for future challenges around inclusion and trust, while supporting the growth and expansion of technology for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
I am hoping to introduce the Bill later this year and will consult with you to ensure that we create a consistent digital identity system that promotes trust in how New Zealanders share their information.
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.