The ATO’s chief digital officer has defended the need to transition to myGovID, arguing that it is a “reasonable expectation” to require additional security features in today’s modern environment.
‘Reasonable expectation’: ATO explains myGovID change
Speaking to Accountants Daily, ATO deputy commissioner John Dardo confirmed that a compatible smart device would be required to use myGovID, with no exceptions to those with older or incompatible devices.
The myGovID app is compatible with most smart devices using either iOS 10 or later or Android 7.0 (Nougat) or later.
“The easy way to describe this is that there is a level of access we now give agents through our systems and a level of information we now give out to agents through our online portals,” Mr Dardo said.
“It is reasonable to expect them to now have a contemporary smart device, almost as a key to access those environments — that is a reasonable expectation.
“It’s not a prohibitive expense. In this day and age, a smartphone is a commodity product.
“They don’t have to get a $1,000 or $2,000 handset; it just has to be a compatible smart device and we’ve found Android versions that are as low as $188 or around $200.”
MyGovID, which will replace AUSkey by the first quarter next year, utilises encryption and cryptographic technology as well as the security features on a device — such as fingerprint, face detection or password — to grant the user access to the government’s online services.
It was developed to overcome a number of mobility and access limitations of AUSkey, including how it was not supported on mobile devices and not compatible with all internet browsers.
According to Mr Dardo, adoption rates are currently three times higher than forecasted, with 280,000 downloads across the Apple App Store and Google Play to date, and an average of 30,000 downloads each day.
Some 1.2 million log-ins have now been recorded, with 105,000 identities now linked to an ABN.
The list of accepted Australian identity documents has also recently been expanded, with birth certificates now being accepted alongside passports, driver’s licences and Medicare cards.
Practitioners will need two of such identity documents to set up myGovID.
Mr Dardo has advised that detailed guidelines around onboarding overseas staff members will be available in the new year, with the ATO currently road-testing the exception process for these users.
“There is a myth out there that you need mobile reception to get access to use the myGovID app and to get access to our online environment — you actually don't,” Mr Dardo said.
“You need the internet — whether that be through WI-FI or not, you need internet.
“If you don’t have internet, it doesn’t matter because you can’t access online services anyway. So, they don’t need mobile reception, they just need access to the internet, whether through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, because if you don’t have access to the internet, then you can’t access the online environment anyway.”
Mr Dardo had also previously assured the profession that myGovID would be “more secure than any credential” and explained how it would be used in a practice with workplace policies on the usage of a mobile phone.