[LINK] Fwd: reminder: Access card forum - 12 March, Canberra

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Mon Mar 12 15:10:59 AEDT 2007

At 05:25 PM 9/03/2007, Jan Whitaker wrote:
>>Access card or ID card? Deb Foskey, ACT Greens MLA, invites 
>>interested members of the public to a lunchtime forum next Monday 
>>on the Federal Government's proposed health and social services 
>>access card at the ACT. ...

As I was in Canberra, I went along. My own views on the card are at 
<http://www.tomw.net.au/technology/it/smartcard/>, which must have 
set a record as the shortest submission to the inquiry 

Someone who I assume is a Greens politician did an okay introduction 
(I don't think it was Deb Foskey).

>>Guest Speakers Anna Johnston 'No ID card' Campaign Director, 
>>Australian Privacy Foundation (APF)

Anna outlined the origins of the APF in the fight against the 
Australia Card proposal <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Card> 
(which was successful).

ASIDE: One memorable part of the Australia Card debate was seeing 
Roger Clarke and others in a dinner table discussion broadcast by the 
ABC. The discussion was edited down to less than an hour, but 
obviously was held over several courses and the discussion got more 
interesting as the evening progressed. ;-)

The APF is opposed to the access card 
<http://www.privacy.org.au/Campaigns/ID_cards/HSAC.html> and see it 
as an Australia Card II. Anna gave a good summary of the access card 
proposal and issues, such as the creation of a photo database 
associated with the card. The card is to be issued to every adult and 
anyone over 15 who requests one. The database will have what is on 
the card, plus more data and link to agency databases. The APF is 
concerned that the Federal Police and ASIO will have access without a 
warrant. Anna did not mention it, but presumably with access to the 
database the police could track almost everyone in the streets of the 
CBD of all Australian cities, using the existing security cameras and 
face recognition.

Anna suggests the Government deflected criticism of privacy by 
referring them to Allan Fells office. This is a little unfair as 
Professor Fells seems to be doing a workmanlike job of dealing with 
privacy issues.

It was a well written speech and will read well. But reading it out 
in a forum only attended by like minded people will not achieve much.

Anna criticized the Government for cutting some optional functions 
from the card. This is unfair as these functions would have 
compromised the security of the card and dropping them is justified.

Anna suggested that the current Medicare card could be upgraded 
instead of a new Access Card. Other initiatives, such as the on-line 
portal system, got a mention (I am not sure if this is the same as 
single sign on  for government online services 

In practice an expanded Medicare card is probably what will happen, 
after those involved in the project recheck the costs and benefits, 
some time after the next election. It will not much matter who wins 
the election, the political climate and the costs will most likely 
set the direction of the project. While proposing a visionary hitech 
project is a boost for politician and bureaucrat's careers, actually 
having to get it to work is not. A Liberal government will brand an 
improved Medicare card as "Access Card Lite"; a Labor government will 
say they are scrapping the Access Card. But they will likely both 
implement essentially the same thing.

>>Julia Nesbitt Director General Practice and eHealth, Australian 
>>Medical Association (AMA) ...

Julia gave a less partisan, and less speech like, presentation.The 
AMA opposes many of the details of the card, but not the idea of a 
head access card <http://www.ama.com.au/web.nsf/doc/WEEN-6YUVSY>. She 
noted there have been problems with several other e-Halth projects, 
which does not give confidence in the Access Card being executed successfully.

Julia argued that any Medical Emergency Information on the card 
should be verified by a doctor, as is done with the MedicAlert 
bracelets <http://www.medicalert.com.au/>. What she didn't say was if 
having this on a card provided any benefit over a MedicAlert 
bracelet. Presumably a smart card is much less robust than an 
engraved metal bracelet and less likely to remain with a patient.

>The forum will examine concerns raised by prominent organisations 
>and politicians about the introduction of the access card. The APF 
>is the leading non-government organisation dedicated to protecting 
>privacy rights, and appeared before a S

The forum did a good job of this, but was essentially preaching to 
the converted. Of the twenty or so people there, most seemed to be 
from an organisation opposed to the Access Card. About the only use 
for the forum was to provide a media event. I felt a bit used, being 
just a prop for the TV cameras.

ps: I thought I would do a "live" report but did not bring my 
wireless modem. I turned on the WiFi but the only access point 
showing was "Panasonic", which was the video projector for the room. 
I resisted the temptation to hack in and project my own slides behind 
the speaker.  ;-)

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd           ABN: 17 088 714 309
http://www.tomw.net.au                PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617  

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