Written by Christopher Drummond
In Australia today, surveillance is not just a matter of security cameras. The government deploys a wide variety of tools from online and digital surveillance, QR codes and checking in, vaccine passports, and now digital identity to infringe on the freedom of Australians.
“Digital Identity” is the government’s new tool to collect piles of data on Australian citizens all in one place. Marketed as making “accessing government services online simpler”, it hides the same disturbing ramifications. One such is the potential collection and storing of your biographical data (biodata) which is the amalgamation of all aspects of a person, including opinions, beliefs, values, attitudes etc. which can be used to predict future behaviour. While the government claims that your biodata will be restricted from collection, it allows exceptions in “narrow circumstances”. But who decides what these narrow circumstances are? That power lies in the hands of the Oversight Authority, which is meant to bring accountability to the process. But the question remains, who appoints this Authority? Will it be the government itself who appoints those meant to keep them accountable? There is certainly precedent for this kind of behaviour. For instance, the Foreign Investment Review Board is made up of overpaid handpicked government cronies who rubber-stamp everything, especially Chinese “investment”, allowing China to buy up as much of Australia as they want. What reason has we to believe that this “Oversight Authority” won’t just be another “jobs for the boys” scheme to help out politicians’ mates, disguised as accountability?
Furthermore, there is The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2021 which creates three new warrants to target “serious and organised crime” that utilise “anonymising technologies” online. But what do they mean by crime though? Once, we may have rest assured that this kind of legislation would only target actual criminals, like gang members and drug smugglers. But as we have seen over the past couple of years, ordinary Australians just standing up for our rights have been treated like criminals. Who is to say that the definition of “organised crime” might not be wrongly applied to people who criticise the government?
What we are seeing here is part of a move towards a system comparable to the social credit system in China. In China, we see rewards for the compliant and punishment for the non-compliant with access to plane tickets, opportunities, and certain jobs restricted to those who are considered “good citizens” by the Chinese government. Sound familiar?
China’s one defence is that at the very least they are upfront and honest about what they are doing, they are not trying to trick their citizens. That much can not be said for our government that still pretends that the huge infringements on our freedoms and privacy are just about “keeping us safe.”
Have your Say Today – Public consultation on Australia’s Digital Identity legislation closes 27th Oct 2021
To see Morgan C Jonas’ opinions on this issue, check out the MCJ Report at: