The Federal government calls it a ‘Human Services Access Card’

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

Frequently Asked Question No. 6

What does the Federal Privacy Commissioner say about it?

Submission re the first Access Card Bill – January 2007 – rather bureaucratic in style, and government-friendly, but it does identify some of the serious deficiencies with the Bill

Media Release ­ 8 November 2006: a pleasant and positive response, even though “the Taskforce and the Government have not taken up all of my recommendations … I am committed to working constructively with the Government”

Media Release ­ 25 August 2006: “recommended a range of privacy safeguards be developed for the proposed health and social services access card”, in this submission to the Task Force

Media Release ­ 26 April 2006: “it is essential that appropriate privacy protections are built in early, particularly into the system design of the access card and registration process, rather than trying to ‘bolt’ these on later. … I encourage the Government to give close consideration to privacy issues and undertake privacy impact assessments as the proposal is progressed”

The Privacy Commissioner is not a watchdog for the public interest. Rather:

  • the Privacy Commissioner is merely the administrator of one particular statute
  • that statute was weak in 1988
  • that statute has been progressively weakened over the years, as agencies have arranged ever more exemptions and exceptions for themselves
  • the Privacy Commissioner is not funded by the Parliament, but by the single person in the Government that most need to be controlled – the Attorney-General
  • unless the Privacy Commissioner is seen by the Attorney-General to be of good behaviour, funding and re-appointment can be, and is, withheld

So don’t expect any dramatic pro-privacy stances from the Privacy Commissioner.

If you are aware of errors or omissions in this document, please let us know.

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