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Thursday, November 7, 2013

ID verification 'streamlined' in Australia

The agency that regulates the Internet and other communication channels in Australia issued new rules that eliminate the need for consumers to show identification when purchasing prepaid mobile services at retail locations. The Australian Communications and Media Authority said on Nov. 1, 2013, that the ruling allows mobile prepaid service providers to validate users when services are activated and removes the identity checking burden from third-party stores that sell mobile prepaid services.

"The changes remove the need for a consumer to provide personal information twice – at the time of sale and when activating the service online or over the phone," said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman. "It is also expected the new options for identity verification will provide greater efficiencies and reduced transaction costs for industry."

The ACMA's rules offer service providers with choices as to how identities can be verified. The new methods include:

  • Verifying government-issued documents via government online verification services
  • Confirming the existence of a credit or debit card account, email address or postpaid account (such as for Internet access)
  • Using a signed courier delivery form to verify a customer's address

The new rules are also expected to protect individuals' privacy by minimizing the amount of personal information service providers can collect. For example, the rules would prohibit a mobile telecommunications firm from recording from a government document an individual's passport number or driver's license used in the verification process. "They can only use the information to check that the document is valid against a secure database," the ACMA said.

The agency is furthermore providing exemptions from ID verification procedures during emergency situations so that individuals can easily access mobile prepaid services when necessary.

The new rules were developed by a working group led by ACMA's portfolio department and included the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, the Attorney-General's Department, law enforcement agencies, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the ACMA, and mobile telecommunication firms Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone Hutchison Australia. end of article

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