National ID card? $1.1 billion+
Freedom and privacy? Priceless!

The Federal government calls it
a ‘Human Services Access Card’, ‘Smartcard’, ‘Consumer Card’ or even a ‘People's Card’ ...

We call it for what it is: The proposal for a National ID Card System


Contents

 

Do you want to do something about it? Here are some suggestions!
Is this the biggest privacy threat this year? Nominate Joe Hockey for a Big Brother Award


1. Snapshot overview:
About the proposed national ID card system (‘Access Card’)

The so-called ‘Access Card’ proposal, as announced by the Australian Government in April 2006, is to introduce a single new card for adults, to replace the Medicare card and various benefit cards issued by Centrelink and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The proposal is that the card would include a biometric photograph of the adult, and be suitable as a multi-purpose “proof of identity” card, not limited to claiming health and social security benefits.

The card technology proposed to be used is a ‘smart card’, meaning there would be a computer chip inside the card, and special readers would need to be installed by any person or organisation wanting to ‘read’ the information from the chip. (Although there would also be some information clearly visible on the face and back of the card.)

The proposal also includes the development of a unique identification number for every person – not just adults.

The proposal includes that information about the adult card-holder, and their dependents (children), be held on the chip, and also on a national population register database to be created by the Department of Human Services through a major investigation checking everyone's identity.

The Australian Privacy Foundation believes this proposal is effectively a proposal for a national ID card system, and we oppose it as such.


2. Current Status

The so-called ‘Access Card’ proposal was approved by Cabinet (26 April 2006), and received a four-year budget starting 1 July 2006 of $1.09 billion (9 May 2006).

The two most senior staff running and designing the project have already quit. They cited privacy, information security and accountability concerns with the project, as have a number of independent commentators and experts.

Professor Allen Fels has been appointed to head a Consumer and Privacy Taskforce (24 May 2006). No terms of reference have been provided. At the announcement, Human Services Minister Joe Hockey called the proposal a ‘Consumer Card’, which ‘the private sector would almost certainly be allowed to read’. (It is unclear why ‘[Human Services] Access Card’, ‘Smartcard’ and ‘Consumer Card’ have all been used as names for this proposed national ID system; the uncertain nomeclature adds to confusion.)

Key information about the proposal remains secret. Minister Hockey initially promised the Australian Privacy Foundation that he would ‘shortly’ (9 May 2006) release the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) prepared by Clayton Utz. He then later refused to do so, calling the PIA ‘redundant’ (24 May 2006). However government officials giving evidence before the Senate on 25 May 2006 said the PIA was prepared in conjunction with, and on the same basis as, the business case prepared by KPMG used by the Government to justify its budget and Cabinet’s approval. Neither Prof Fels nor the Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis have been able to have the PIA released.

Edited parts of the Business Case, prepared by KPMG in February 2006, were finally published on 6 June 2006. However, critical chapters were missing, including:

The Australian Privacy Foundation continues its call to have the Privacy Impact Assessment published immediately. If the PIA is ‘redundant’, then so is the government’s whole ‘Business Case’ for the project.

APF also demands the release of the Terms of Reference and briefing documents provided to KPMG and Clayton Utz, on which they based their assessments, and the critical omissions from the business case.

Note: This information last updated 6 June 2006.

Update: Speech at public forum 9 November.


3. Information pack

Policy documents

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

[Answers to follow soon - please suggest extra questions!]

Our media contributions


4. Media reports, links, and other resources

Earlier projects

There is a considerable amount of information on related APF Campaign Pages for the predecessor projects, which were:

A related project is the Document Verification System

Resources re the Government's Proposal

Resources on the proposed national ID card system generally

Media Reports

This section has links to media coverage of the proposal.
See also:

Some of the hundreds of media reports:

5. History and background to the current proposal for a national ID card system

See separate page.