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Australia Govt Boosting Confidence In E-Commerce

Release From the Australian Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston

The Government will establish a new peak body to oversee the development of a national framework for electronic authentication of online activity, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, announced today.

'Electronic authentication (EA) can be thought of as providing the digital equivalent of physical signatures, or to forms of identification such as driver's licences and passports,' Senator Alston said.

'There has been widespread concern within industry that consumer and small business distrust of electronic transactions is inhibiting the development of online commerce. The Government recognises that it has a leadership role to play in building trust.

'However, the market for authentication technologies is developing rapidly, and it is important that any government involvement adopts a "light touch" approach.

'The new National Electronic Authentication Council (NEAC) will enhance business and consumer confidence in systems for authenticating electronic commerce transactions.'

NEAC will:

provide a national focal point on authentication matters including, where appropriate, co-ordination of authentication-related activities at a national and international level;

·provide advice to Government on authentication and related matters and monitoring market developments in authentication;

oversee the development by industry bodies and Standards Australia of a framework of technical standards and codes of business practice on authentication matters (including, as appropriate, promoting future interoperability between authentication systems) and provide policy advice to those processes;

provide information and advice to industry and consumers on authentication issues such as a broad 'map' of authentication technology types and best practice relating to electronic authentication which Australian organisations and companies will be encouraged to follow;

and as the Government expands its delivery of services online, facilitate the wider use of authentication products issued by Government agencies for other transactions.

The Council is expected to include representation from major organisations with an interest in the emerging authentication environment. The Government expects to approach relevant user, industry and government organisations over the next few weeks.

'The establishment of NEAC strikes the right balance between the need to boost consumer and small business confidence, while also allowing the market to develop. The decision will provide a significant boost to electronic commerce in Australia,' Senator Alston said.

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