Digital ID – the risks

December 16, 2023

How would you like to be required to use a wireless device? How would you like all of your personal data to be stored online? How would you like other people to use this information to make decisions about what you can and can’t do in the future?

Then you might be interested to hear about the Digital ID Bill.

The Australian Government has introduced the ‘Digital ID Bill 2023’ and is inviting Australians to make submissions by 19 January 2024. During their holiday period.

‘This might be the most terrifying piece of legislation Australia’s parliament has seen,’ said Senator Malcolm Roberts. ‘You just won’t be able to access government services without a Digital ID, be allowed in certain venues or participate in parts of society.’ 2

‘This is the first step in a Chinese-style social credit system,’ said Senator Alex Antic. ‘If you don’t toe the line, your ‘digital identity’ could be cancelled, meaning you’d be cut off from the world of online services that people now rely on.’ 3

The Digital ID Bill allows authorities to collect information such as passports, medicare details, citizenship details, visa details, driver’s licence details, immiCard details, marriage certificates, change of name certificates, tax file numbers, biometric data (physical identifiers) and so on. It also allows them to use technology that authenticate this information, which would most likely include facial recognition technology.

Among the concerns about the Digital ID Bill are the following.

Digital devices

  • The Bill would remove people’s choice about what kinds of technology they use.

  • It would require Australians to use digital devices for a wide range of functions and services, for example, to validate their identity. This would severely disadvantage people who do not or cannot use wireless devices, including those with electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

  • Any increase in the use of digital devices will increase the amount of radiofrequency radiation to which the user and people nearby and, by extension, the community and environment is exposed.

  • Radiofrequency radiation has been shown to have harmful effects on the body and the environment & the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified it as a Class 2B carcinogen.

  • Future generations of wireless technology will expose Australians to additional frequencies that have not been demonstrated to be safe.

Need not demonstrated

  • The Australian Government has not demonstrated that there is a need for a Digital ID system.

Security risk

  • It would require the government to store vast amounts of private personal data that is vulnerable to hacking. Assurances that this data would be safe cannot be relied on because government data has been repeatedly hacked. In the last few months, at least 12 million Australian have had their data hacked.Senator Malcolm Roberts says that recent examples of hacking Government data include:
    • myGov data

    • Australian Defence Force information (June 23)

    • NDIS (July 23)

    • Department of Home Affairs (July 23)

    • Department of Veterans’ Affairs (August 23)

    • Australian Federal Police (September 23).5

  • The Bill allows the government to give personal information to third parties.


  • Claims that the Digital ID Bill will be voluntary are not necessarily true because Section 74(4) of the Digital ID Bill specifies it will be made compulsory if a bureaucrat is “satisfied it is appropriate to do so”.

  • There is no provision for Australians to opt out of the legislation.

  • Penalties will be imposed for failing to comply with the legislation.


  • A Digital ID system that requires people to use digital devices to access basic services will fail where there are technological faults and natural disasters.
    • The Australia-wide Optus outage of 7 November this year impacted approximately 20 million customers, 400,000 businesses and government, health and transport systems. 6

    • New Zealand’s telecommunications networks broke down in March this year during Cyclone Gabrielle. 7

Freedom and rights

  • The collection of personal data, including biometric data, using facial recognition technology and similar, is intrusive.

  • The bill and technology to support it would lead to numerous aspects of citizens’ lives being captured and the information shared with third parties.

  • Digital ID systems have been shown to restrict human rights. ‘… digital ID systems can lead to a wide range of urgent human rights issues, including but not limited to: the violation of the right to nationality, limiting access to health care, food, and social security; a multitude of concerns about privacy and data protection, surveillance, and cybersecurity; and fundamental changes to models of democracy, participation, and citizen-state relationships.  The human rights consequences can be severe and irreversible.’ 8

The Senate Standing Committees on Economics is accepting public submissions until 19 January 2024.

Submissions can be made:

  • online here

  • by email to

  • or by post to Senate Standing Committees on Economics, PO Box 6100, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

You can see EMR Australia’s submission here.


  1. ParlInfo - Digital ID Bill 2023 (

  2. Senator Malcolm Roberts, Digital ID Bill 2023: A Step Towards Dystopia? One Nation Raises Alarm

  3. Senator Alex Antic

  4. ABC News, ‘Cyber black market selling hacked ATO and MyGov logins shows Medibank and Optus only tip of iceberg’, - ABC News

  5. Tough Questions Asked on Digital ID Bill - Malcolm Roberts 

  6. ABC News, ‘What caused Optus’s nationwide outage, and how long was it down for? Here’s what we know’,- ABC News

  7. Why NZ's communications networks broke down in Cyclone Gabrielle | RNZ News

  8.  Center for Human rights and Global Justice, NYU School of Law, ‘Paving a Digital Road to Hell?’

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your readership and support this year and to wish you a very happy Christmas season.

Our office will close at 5pm on Friday 22 December and reopen on Monday 22 January 2024 and I look forward to keeping you informed next year.