Heads up guys! Let’s talk about identity. Do you have one? How long have you had it? Where did you get it? Is it truly yours? Are you sure of that? Who thinks otherwise? There are answers to these (and a host of other, related) questions.
Why are you interested? Well, simply put, the agenda of your Commonwealth government is complex in this area and not widely anticipated. There’s been an agenda for 30 years so it’s maybe worth being up to speed on some parts of it.
Thing 1: The Digital Transformation Office (a gaggle of whiz-children grunging it down in Ultimo with $25 Million of your money to burn) are spending 9 weeks “designing” a new GOV.AU web site (we use the word in its most approximate sense, as there won’t be an actual design). For the moment the concept appears to be that this will be an entry point to everything else you might ever need from any of the three levels of government in Australia. From a tax return to a dog permit, from registering your start-up to renewing your helicopter license (we assume), get yourself over to GOV.AU and then get sent to the right places for a single-click experience, just like Uber or Amazon. Sure, we’re tired of the hyperbole too. So then ask yourself a simple question: Right, I’m here – now how do I log in? Ah, “my” identity.
Thing 2: No, you can’t just “log in”. There’s a galaxy of bad guys out there who are planning all sorts of evil things for you. You need to be protected. A recent Prime Minister said, recently, that the first duty of government is to keep the citizens safe. Yes, we saw the funny side of that too, but seriously now: your state has decided that it has to keep you safe, from baddies. In fact, you might be a baddie, and they need to keep other citizens safe from … you. So when it comes to logging in to a web site such as GOV.AU it won’t just be a matter of an email address and a password, oh no that won’t cut it at all. You need SECURITY.
Thing 3: The best place you can get SECURITY is from the government. Other forms of security are a bit crappy and you want industrial strength SECURITY to keep all the baddies away. So, why not have the Commonwealth take care of DIGITAL SECURITY for ALL AUSTRALIANS. How appealing is that? We know you just can’t refuse. So, it’s not MANDATORY or anything but just fill out all these details and we’ll send it to you in the post. Send me what you ask?
Your very own AUSTRALIA CARD
With your own name on it, and a smart chip with special data on it, and login codes plus proximity and radio frequency features, because we want to make Australia the Safest Cleverest World-leading Country in the World, where citizens can use the Internet without fear and “our” CHILDREN are secure. Yes, they own the kids too.
Just like FakeBook has become the de-facto gatekeeper of the Internet (just try to exist without an account) the Australia Card will be the essential for anything you want to do in – well, in Australia actually. Here’s a quote from a lawyer who wrote a critique of the original Australia Card legislation, way back in 1986. “Every person in Australia will be required to obtain a Card, including children. The Bill does not make it legally compulsory: it simply makes it impossible for anyone to exist in Australian society without it, because they will be unable to carry out normal activites (sic)”. Right, so you don’t have your secure identity for GOV.AU ? You don’t – so you don’t get in. And forget the rest of the services you pay for through the tax system as well. The Commonwealth gives you your validated, secure identity number, and without it you can’t exist. Hi non-person.
Digital KoolAid has been curious about the new PM’s motives for throwing good money away on your DTO. Other than self image (did he invent the Internet or was that Al Gore?), why is this important in today’s Australia: where money is scarce and a budget emergency exists. Oh, you forgot the budget emergency – so listen to Parliament one day: it’s still there. One answer to this curious situation is the reprise of the failed 1986 Australia Card.
Watch this space. Well, watch GOV.AU and see how this plays out.
- Here’s a “wouldn’t it be great” type blog to kick it all off for the DTO.
- Here’s a “now we own your identity” follow up titled “The DTO now manage Government authentication frameworks.”
The article is worth reading. Here’s a tiny excerpt. You have to remember the date was 1986, not today. The draft legislation is probably still in the word processor.
Compulsory inspection of the Card and Number by enforcing organisations
The Government’s purpose is to require businesses and other organisations to identify by Number all persons with whom they deal in transactions which have significance for the taxation, social security or immigration enforcement systems. The Bill does not directly penalise people involved in such transactions for failing to produce their Card. Instead, it forces the businesses and organisations involved ( `enforcing organisations’ ) to require people to produce their Cards, by penalties ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Fifteen situations where enforcing organisations will commit offences if they do not require a person to produce a Card, are summarised in the Table `15 types of compulsory production’ .