It’s an ID card, not an iPod
Wednesday January 03rd 2007, 3:04 pm

big bother 2007

Health and Human Services Minister Joe Hockey ought to sell used cars or real estate. In the controversy plagued smartcard campaign, now dubbed the ‘Access Card,’ J-Ho has called the card just about anything but what it is, suggesting that user-available space on the card can be used for recipes, shopping lists or MP3 files- but always dodging the core fact that the Access Card is still a national ID card connected to linked information databases containing your personal medical and financial details.

Every reason given by the Howard Gubmint rationalising needs for the Access Card has more holes than Jarlsberg. The primary excuse levers downward envy of single mums and disabled pensioners, claiming that the Access Card will reduce welfare fraud. Problem is, Australia has a rate of welfare fraud of around 0.5%- among the lowest in all countries with welfare systems. Presuming that the Access Card could eliminate ALL welfare fraud, the proposed $10 billion cost of the scheme would spend all the savings from fraud reduction many, many times over. Responsible governments don’t throw cash around like that. There’s a benefit they’re seeking that J-Ho ain’t telling you about.

J-Ho has also pulled the ‘protection from terrorism‘ lever- which is so absurd as to not even merit further comment. Pull the other one, Joe. Your silly card isn’t body armor… nor even a fridge magnet.

Suki Lombard agains rips Father Tony Abbott, this time for his decision to award a contract for pregnancy counselling to a Catholic faith based service organisation, Centacare, instead of evidence based counselling services. On the issue of privacy in the digital age, Suki rightly and frighteningly observes:

This has so many implications. Firstly, the sneaky creation of a specific Medicare payment that will be able to ’split’ what is currently covering a variety of gynaecological services as to the reason/s for the patient’s visit to a doctor. This specific Medicare number could theoretically be cross referenced with women who then go on to be admitted to the variety of gynaecological services which cover the current Medicare number… and by default get a clearer picture of what’s not going on to full-term in the uteri of the nation’s uppity women.

Then our government, perhaps using the Access Card, could link into Centrelink and find out who the women are who go on to claim a baby bonus within say, 12 months of the date of the call to the pregnancy counseling services. Perhaps our government could track who does the better pregnancy counseling service and pay productivity bonuses.

Count on Suki for the optimistic view… but she’s quite right- doesn’t Julian McGauran know quite enough about the medical histories of Australians?

The memory chip in the Access Card isn’t the problem. It’s the linked databases that the card represents. The chipless American Social Security Card and number (SSN), originally intended simply as an identifier for healthcare and social support benefit distribution, through its unofficial adoption by many business and non-government concerns as an ID card, has become a privacy morass.

The use of the SSN as a unique identifier by non-government agencies is not prohibited in the US- these days, you can’t get a job, open a bank account nor even rent an apartment without a SSN. It’s thus all too easy to collect significant amounts of data about a person and potentially commit identity fraud, even if all the crim has is a person’s SSN and home address. The Access Card goes all that an order of magnitude worse by creating linked databases. Your medical and financial information will be in one neat little package for hackers who’d like to live a bit of your life on your behalf.

Former ACCC Chairman Allan Fels, much trusted by the public for his responsible actions at ACCC before his retirement, was brought on to the Access Card project to investigate privacy concerns. One of Fels’ primary recommendations was to not have a number on the face of the Access Card, rather to encode it on the embedded memory chip. J-Ho and boss JoHo, both failing to recognise the historical lesson from the American Social Security experience, have rejected Fels’ recommendation, guaranteeing that Access Card users will fall prey to the same sort of abuses as the users of the SSN.

The Howard Gubmint has been going to great lengths to claim that use of the Access Card will be voluntary. However, it will not be possible after 2010 to use Medicare or Centrelink services without the card. This means that about 90% of Australians, from Youth Benefit to disabled and aged pension recipients, will be required to have an Access Card- and will have absolutely no choice in the matter. The least powerful people in the equation, those who have little ability to resist, will be targeted first. The next target for government smartcards will be your kids, who have even less ability to resist being Big Brothered.

Just say no to national ID cards at the 2007 polls.


7 Comments so far
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Well there’s that… and there’s the fact that the Access Card is one step closer to the Mark of the Beast 🙂

Comment by Flashman 01.03.07 @ 4:00 pm

can I just say…. !nataS 😀

Comment by weez 01.03.07 @ 5:55 pm

Hah!!! Sorta reminds me of this t-shirt I saw the other day, while I was on lunch… plain black with the words ‘Is it fascism yet?’

The funny thing is that when Hawke tried to bring in his National ID scheme in the 1980’s, Lil Johny opposed it vehemently. My how thing change when the shoe is on the other foot.

Comment by Marcus 01.06.07 @ 2:06 pm

Weez, for my money the whole thing will end up in the chook yard when these idjuts realize that their own family and friends will have hackable cards. Now, where’s my old Captain Krunch box. I wanna be Phil Ruddock for a day!

Comment by theHippy 01.08.07 @ 2:02 am

Marcus, it seems that governments always are interested in Big Brother cards/surveillance cameras etc., while oppositions always want to quash them. It’s fairly obvious that a government in power must have some very specific uses for all the private data it can get its hands on…

Hippy, thanks for dropping in. Joe Hockey says the new Australia Card is not mandatory, but anyone who takes a payment from Centrelink or who is reimbursed by Medicare for medical expenses (which is pretty much everyone in Australia) must have one. Only a scant few Australians who can do without either will be able to piss off the ‘smart’ card, but you can bet the fatcats who can afford to do so will completely ignore it.

Comment by weez 01.08.07 @ 7:33 am

GREAT article.

Incidentally, some of my older anarchist comrades took part in various political campaigns against the Silver Bodgie’s plans to introduce a similar scheme in the early- to mid- 80s: People Against Identity Numbers: P.A.I.N.


They (and others) went into the Special Branch files as a result, natch… but that’s another story. One revealed by ‘The Age’ a few years ago!

Anyway, thank Godwin the state can be trusted to always look after the best interests of its citizens.

We’ve really nothing to worry about.

And the poms have a really good cricket team.

Comment by @ndy 01.16.07 @ 12:52 pm

Thanks, @ndy.

It’s heartening to know that there’s a faction within the Lieberal Party committed to knocking this thing on the head.

Cricket? Ashes to ashes, eh? 😉

Comment by weez 01.16.07 @ 7:00 pm

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