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If the current Australian government has its way they will own the identity of every Australian, or as close to it as makes little difference. Hysterical? Only slightly … we have a proposal for an identity card chipped to contain various identifying characteristics of the holder (potentially very sensitive health information for instance) that the proposed legislation states will be the property of the Government. The legislation has been drafted so hastily there is virtually NOTHING in it about privacy considerations.

Need to make a Medicare claim, access health services, welfare benefits? The idea is that services that you are entitled to can be refused (some MUST be refused) if you fail to produce your card.

Now this has actually been around for some time, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve been letting it slide from my attention. It was reading Kim Cameron’s posts about fingerprinting school children in the UK that revived my interest. Having caught up a bit, I am encouraged to see that the Senate Committee report published on March 15th recommended the whole lot be scrapped and started again – and this was with the support of a majority of the Government Senators.

This isn’t going away – I’m sure the bill will be resurrected in some form. And it’s not even the use of a card that is the issue – it’s the complete lack of control for the individual about identifying and sensitive information that was intended, the lack of concern for privacy and data security evidenced in the draft, and the breadth of access and data matching envisaged.

Want to know more? The Australian Privacy Foundation has a great resource that rounds up a pile of reports, submissions to the Senate Committee and media mentions. I’ll trawl through some of it to see how many of Kim’s Laws of Identity survive …

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