Your personal information will soon be held in a centralised database in the Office of Access Card. When the inevitable Centrelink/Immigration department style glitches happen, you may be wrongfully arrested as a super-villain and unlawfully deported to Venezuela, which this week is listed as your "place of birth" - by accident. This is much more likely to happen to you if you are disabled like Vivian Solon, since they are testing the system live on Disability Support Pensioners first. Next they'll come after the unemployed, and then they'll come after you.
Hidden away in the newspapers are a small Federal announcement about the Access Card Bill asking for public submissions to the Senate Committee before Wednesday 28th February. This new Australian Identity Card will centralize all Federal government databases into one that can easily be corrupted, hacked and abused. You are invited to write to the Senate Committee at email@example.com
Identity theft is easy when there's just one database with all of your personal information. Its a honey-pot with a giant target painted on the top.
There is no plan to give out card readers with the computer chipped cards, so how can you confirm that the information stored about you is correct? If its wrong, you may not be able to buy your prescription medicines.
The Model 204 databases used by Centrelink and all the other departments are so badly written and maintained that they constantly report wrong information. Model 204 was released in 1967. At the moment the worst Centrelink have done is starve people due to payments refused by database glitches. "The computer says no."
This Bill is being pushed through with minimal media coverage, and no debate. Hardly anyone is aware of it, and very few understand that the guinea pigs are those least able to protest - those who still qualify for a Disability Support pension under a Howard government.
Why does the central database need to know where you were born? What difference could it make?
Every doctor's surgery and pharmacy will have to replace their medicare card readers with Access card readers, its going to be very expensive, and for what? Right now, the Medicare card system is so simple that very few mistakes happen. Its a name, a number, and an expiry date. Nothing else is necessary.
Every train and bus ticket machine will have to be replaced, along with extra readers for cinemas, banks and supermarkets. Instead of glancing at a card to see that its valid, every card will have to be validated through the network.
They propose to put digital cash on the card, starting with payments for natural emergencies, but possibly leading up to Centrelink benefits. Imagine being able to hack the card and get a payout from any ATM. Or leaving the card in the washing and losing your month's rent.
Only 17 cards will be replaced in your lifetime. The information is to be kept on file forever after your death.
The Access Card will also hold your title with your name. I propose that as many people as possible ordain themselves for free as Universal Life Church ulc.org ministers with the title of "Reverend". This way, you don't have to be treated as a second class citizen if you don't have already have a title. At http://ulc.org they offer all kinds of titles.
There is no guarantee against your gender, race, religion being recorded, which guarantees discrimination. The card could easily be used to round people up. There's no protection against it being used the same way it has been used in the authoritarian regimes around the world that have national identification databases.
The Access Card Bill proposes that the Federal Government will have Crown Copyright over your name, signature and all your personal information!
At the moment, you can confirm your identity over the phone with your date of birth and your middle name. When all of this is in one database that will be hacked and copied very quickly, there will be no way to authenticate yourself over the phone. The central database is planned to have a digitized copy of your birth certificate, passport, driver's license, marriage license and everything else. There is nothing they can't believe they don't know about you. There are no protections proposed to stop this information being data-mined and sold.
Joe Hockey's Access Card isn't just cricket.