Digital passports – have your say
Digital passports – have your say
The federal government is introducing a raft of legislation aimed at creating and supporting digital passports and is inviting public comment.
The Digital Identity Legislation aims to establish a centralised database of information about individuals that can be accessed by various government departments, businesses and others authorised to do so. It would allow people to ‘sign in’ online so that a business, for example, can access their personal details. This includes documents that confirm their identity, their medical records, their vaccination status and so on.
‘Digital identity …is a safe, secure and convenient way for Australians to prove their identity online,’ said Stuart Robert, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, who is introducing the bills.
‘The vision for the Australian Government Digital Identity System is a whole-of-economy solution that connects local, state, territory, and private sector services,’ said Peter Alexander, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Digital Transformation Agency. In other words, a lot of people would be able to access an individual’s personal details.
As well as the advantages the Government sees for it, the Digital Identity Legislation has a number of drawbacks.
The online centralised storage of highly confidential personal information has considerable privacy concerns. If an individual is required to show digital identification each time he or she enters a business, as happens with QR codes at present, that’s a lot of people with access to those personal details.
There are also questions about the security of online storage and distribution of this information. Will it be safe? How do we know? Can its safety be guaranteed?
Digital identification makes it easier than ever for schools, businesses, government agencies and so on to discriminate against individuals on the basis of any information stored digitally. That could include religion, educational status, sexual orientation, political beliefs, vaccination status or any other criteria that could, in the future, be added to the database and be contentious.
‘Vaccine passports may have significant implications for privacy and autonomy, freedom of movement and association, equity and discrimination, particularly when it comes to accessing everyday goods and services’, says the Australian Human Rights Commission.
“While we support vaccine verification, Australia needs to be vigilant that the technology does not summon a new era in spatial surveillance that could be adapted by government and business in ways contrary to public interest,’ says The Australia Institute.
The Digital Identification legislation will require the revealing of personal information online. In practical terms, for example, signing into businesses, this will mean with the use of a mobile phone.
But what about the people who don’t use a mobile phone, who don’t want to use a mobile phone or who are adversely affected by mobile phone radiation?
A digital passport scheme could create an unprecedented dependency on these radiation-emitting devices and further ostracise those individuals who don’t use them.
More information about the Digital Identity Legislation is available at: https://www.digitalidentity.gov.au/have-your-say/phase-3
Public comment is invited until 5:00 pm AEDT on Wednesday 27 October 2021.
Submissions can be emailed to: email@example.com.
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