[LINK] Access your areas

Karl Auer kauer at biplane.com.au
Mon Mar 12 09:51:45 AEDT 2007

> http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/access-your-areas/2007/03/08/1173166897988.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1
> * It streamlines claims for benefits from Medicare, Centrelink, Veterans 
> Affairs and 14 other agencies, all using separate cards, making it 
> faster and simpler for claimants.

Debatable, but we probably have to take that at face value.

> * Biometric photograph on the surface, in the card chip and on a central 
> register makes fraud, at present costing $1.4 billion to $2 billion a 
> year, much harder.

If the card has any data on the surface, it makes fraud *easier*,
because people will tend to trust the surface data (which is easily
faked) rather than bother with reading the stored data (which is harder
to fake). The lower-value the transaction, the more likely the surface
data will be used.

> * Cardholders have option of including medical emergency details, organ 
> donor status and contact details, which can be accessed by hospitals, on 
> the card chip.

All of this can just as easily - and FAR more accessibly in an emergency
- be stored on a piece of paper in a wallet or purse. This point is in
any case a total red herring; if this is a desired function, it would be
better on a separate card in a separate system. In fact, this
information requires no back-end system at all! We gain nothing by
having it on an ID card.

> * The card could be used to check eligibility for other concessions, 
> such as public transport and cinema discounts.

Another red herring. We can have that benefit without having an
Australia wide ID card. There are plenty of ways to check concessions,
and such things are very low-value transactions; there is no need for an
an Australia-wide ID card to provide this.

> * Biometric photograph held on register will make it potentially easier 
> to identify and trace people in danger, or who have gone missing.

Again, a red herring. It is wildly inappropriate to set up an
Australia-wide ID card for the sake of the few people who go missing
each year.

Interesting that we are suddenly talking about identifying and tracing
people, hmmmm?

> * The Government says it will heavily penalise non-authorised people and 
> firms demanding card for identification purposes, but privacy 
> campaigners say this will be hard to check, and card will inevitably 
> morph into a national identity card.

If they were serious about preventing use as an ID card, they would
penalise its use as an ID card. That is, they would make it an offence
to request *or to offer* the card as ID. Since they do not do that, and
only make "demanding" an offence, they leave the way open for "offers we
can't refuse". If a bank loans officer wants to see the card -
"voluntarily" of course - who is going to refuse?

> * The Government says the card will not be compulsory, but people will 
> need it to claim Medicare, welfare and veterans' benefits.

In short, it WILL be compulsory for a large number of Australians. Only
the wealthy will in any practical sense be able to avoid having the

> * The photograph, number and signature on the card opens the way for 
> identity theft, although the Government says technologically 
> sophisticated system will make this extremely difficult.

Difficult; but the rewards are that much greater.

Regards, K.

Karl Auer (kauer at biplane.com.au)                   +61-2-64957160 (h)
http://www.biplane.com.au/~kauer/                  +61-428-957160 (mob)

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