With governments at all levels across Australia continuing to push into digital transformation, we look at 'open government and digitising the customer experience' as the overarching theme in our summer edition of the NSW Government Bulletin.

An initiative such as Service NSW's foray into digital driver's licenses is a worthy example of this transition in service delivery.

With a massive take-up in the first 48 hours of being launched, the digital driver's licenses has been praised for streamlining and simplifying the customer experience, but data and privacy concerns have also been raised.

Service NSW – the single customer service division for the delivery of government services – made great strides in 2019 in digitising several forms and reducing the overall complexity of dealing with government.

NSW is not alone in grappling with digital transformation and initiatives are many across the states.

For example the Queensland Government, as part of its "DIGITAL1ST" digital strategy for 2017 to 2021, is currently discussing projects such as digital hospitals, the use of drone technology to assist in turtle rehabilitation and new technology for emergency services.

At a Commonwealth level, a concerted approach is underway to develop a proposed national driver's licence facial recognition solution, with the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 the proposed statutory vehicle for implementing this.

Across the various states and at a national level, there is much to consider in bringing on these digital transformation initiatives, such as:

  • tortious liability - is there potential tortious liability associated with the initiative and how should governments seek to reduce liability?
  • copyright - are there copyright implications and how will copyright be treated?
  • permissible sub delegation of legislative authority - is there an express authorisation that enables the decision to be made by an electronic system?
  • personal information - is personal information involved and how will it be treated?
  • public accessibility and disclosure - will the information be accessible or can it be disclosed on application?
  • admissibility in court - will the data be admissible in a court or tribunal?
  • maintaining the digital record - what are the record keeping obligations imposed?

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.