Access Card fears not allayed, Senator Fierravanti-Wells

This morning I sent the following email to Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal, NSW).

Good morning Senator,

You’re quoted in the media today as dismissing concerns that the proposed “Access Card” card would evolve into a de facto national identity document. “The protections contained in the bill are sufficient to allay such concerns,” you’re quoted as saying.

No, they are not. My fears are not allayed one iota.

I’d like to know the rationale on which you so quickly dismiss such concerns — and whether you’ve actually undertaken any research on this issue, either in the literature or amongst your constituents.

Already, a driver’s license is supposed to indicate whether someone has the approval to drive a motor vehicle. And yet I’m constantly asked to show a driver’s license for any number of routine interactions. When I say I don’t have a driver’s license, I’m treated with suspicion. And yet none of these transactions have anything to do with motor vehicles.

Any proposed “Access Card” (what a euphemism!) would be more widespread than driver’s licenses. Businesses would be even more likely to ask to see it — because they feel the need to see some sort of photo ID. Even if the legislation contained “safeguards” to prevent this, it would still happen for the simple reason that for many ordinary people it might be the only “photo ID” they have — especially if they don’t drive or don’t have a passport.

I have yet to be convinced that the Access Card would make life any easier for the citizens of Australia. The supposed benefits being claimed are the same sort of thing as claimed for most “Big IT” projects — but which are so rarely delivered. The risks are very high — an integrated national ID database is wide open to abuse, and creates a “one stop shop” for identity fraud.

A lot more thought needs to go into this than is currently being demonstrated.



2 Replies to “Access Card fears not allayed, Senator Fierravanti-Wells”

  1. Well put (as usual). I wonder what the senator’s response will be? Can we hope for “thoughtful”?

  2. I’ll certainly publish the Senator’s response. And thanks for the compliment.

    My experience, however, is that you shouldn’t get your hopes up about “thoughtful”. Politicians don’t usually approach letters with “How can I incorporate this citizen’s thoughts into my actions?”, but “How can I fob them off without committing to anything?”

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