Is the Chinese surveillance state the template for digital identification?

The media organisations and media people we think we can count on to protect us from government intrusion into our lives, and to inform us when there are threats to our privacy, are invisible on the vast expansion of the Federal Government’s Digital Identification system.

I have googled and put through DuckDuckGo a query on “media digital identification legislation” and not a single news report is found anywhere, other than a single report from The Cairns News on how wonderful this change will be.

But there was this, almost uniquely available:  Australia to open digital ID system to private sector with consultation on new legislation on ZDNet, which is hardly a household media outlet.  They try to  be positive but there is also this:

Instead of listening to researchers recommending the Australian government abandon its existing digital identity system and start again from scratch, after highlighting again security flaws in two of the systems already accredited, the government has opened a second round of consultation, this time on the development of legislation.

There was then also this:

Researchers want Australia’s digital ID system thrown out and redesigned from scratch

Researchers find myGovID is subject to an easily-implemented code proxying attack, while the digital identity solution from Australia Post does not possess a fundamental requirement for accreditation.

Why we should be grateful that the government will find it easier to access information about us is beyond me, especially in a system that will be as leaky as this? Why should I want anyone to have such access, let alone our state premiers (see Dan Andrews) or our commercial banks?

What will be included? Our financial records? Our medical records? Who will be able to gain access? Under what conditions? Is Facial Recognition Technology part of it?

Very late in the day but someone who actually cares about privacy ought to be making this an issue. Anyway, here is the government’s bright as a button booklet to help you understand how much they want these changes made: Your Guide to the Digital Identity Legislation

Not a word anywhere in it why it will be good for any of us in any way, other than it will be cheaper to keep an eye on us and much much easier.

38 thoughts on “Is the Chinese surveillance state the template for digital identification?”

  1. Its being done for the benefit of the government, not the benefit of citizens…

    That alone makes it shit legislation.

    Citizens arent the ones who have made “proving” who you are at every step a requirement for accessing government.

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  2. This issue of the Digital Identity legislation is going to show up the fault lines in our society, and many of us are not going to like it.

    After discovering that the legislation was actually at Stage 3 in the federal parliament, without any discussion in the public media, I emailed most of my friends with the relevant information. These encompassed both right and left sides of politics.

    I received only ONE response. This is very unusual, because I would normally get some sort of comment or acknowledgement.

    Have people become so fearful/complacent/uninterested that such a development is of absolutely no interest to them? Afraid so.

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  3. Health status and financial records are a concern.

    How about political, social and religious participation ? Comments on blogs ? Participation in protests ? Opposition to migration and the multi culti goat rodeo ? Travel and your reasons for going to a particular destination ?

    As per the Chinese example.

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  4. Disturbing but I’m honestly not that worried. These clowns couldn’t even do contact tracing right. At least in Victoria, they had people going through that stuff by hand. In a state where every other uber driver seems to be a qualified IT professional they apparently couldn’t find anyone to write the ~1000 or so lines of SQL you’d need to automate the process. These clowns couldn’t organise a blowjob in a whorehouse. All they know how to do is issue edicts and hope people are too scared to object, hence why that’s the only card they ever play.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole thing is just awful and should be vigorously opposed. But I reckon it’s just gonna turn into another hopeless government boondoggle and at least a few more people will get woken up to the realities of government. Maybe I’m just a hopeless optimist though.

  5. What of business costs to comply?

    Why is business burdened with enforcing the law? Other than restricted goods such as alcohol, tobacco and firearms etc, when has a business been required to check the identity, let alone the the Gov approved status, of its customers?

    This burden is easily absorbed by the multi-nationals et al, but is a significant extra cost the the small businesses that provide circa 80% of the jobs and innovation in our economy. For example, Colesworths can afford to put a staff member at the entrance to enforce QR scan-ins, but what of the small mixed business on the corner – they’ve already lost the advantage of being able to open when they please vs the big boys being restricted, they are at a disadvantage on buy price and so on. Such a requirement, if enforced, may well be the straw that breaks the camels back.
    Is that what we want? Greater and greater regulation, with compliance costs pushing the small, innovative companies to the wall, and handing even more market share to those already shown to be prepared to do whatever it takes to remove all competition not part of their near duopoly.
    Those small businesses pushed the giants to stock more and more varied things – everything from garlic to gluten free, from sushi to tabouli. These only appeared in the big stores after the small specialty importers and sellers created and grew the market.

    And that’s just one sector – food. What about the thousands if not millions of other product and service industries? And to what purpose are these industries being sacrificed? Israel and the UK experience would seem to suggest that the vaccines are not likely to extinguish the risk of being infected with this virus, let alone the virus itself. Will we sacrifice even more of our businesses and innovation on the altar of govco keeping us “safe”?

    When has government ever done a better job than individual choice? Do the health and education sectors (some of the biggest Gov spending and control) provide exceptional service at rock bottom prices? Hardly. Childcare? Same story – once GovCo becomes involved and starts regulating it to death, costs soar and service standards and availability plummet. We know this. We have seen it time after time, in industry after industry. But somehow I am expected to believe that this time, it is a good idea, that this time it will work and be a positive to society. I might be dumb, but I’m not that stupid.

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  6. This digital id is just the first step for digital currency, where the government will see every single transaction, and will be able to control your ability to use your own money. Taxes will be automatically debited. Anonymity transactions will end.

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  7. What of business costs to comply?

    Straight up fascism, Kneel. Fewer businesses to control, and more enthusiastic too because they’ve seen what happens to the others.

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  8. Researchers want Australia’s digital ID system thrown out and redesigned from scratch

    Repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome. There’s a saying about that.

    Just get the hell out of my life, you dysfunctional hitlerist dunderheads.

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  9. the government will see every single transaction, and will be able to control your ability to use your own money

    Yep. Get ready to have your meat and booze intake severely curtailed. For your own good, of course.

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  10. Zipster says:
    October 23, 2021 at 11:18 am

    This digital id is just the first step for digital currency, where the government will see every single transaction, and will be able to control your ability to use your own money. Taxes will be automatically debited. Anonymity transactions will end.

    I was at my local shopping centre yesterday and had a need to withdraw cash from an ATM. There were two ATMs at this shopping centre which were owned and operated by two of the big banks, both of these are now gone and they have been replaced by new ATMs operated by private companies which charge $2.50 per transaction.

    I can understand the banks getting out of the ATM business, there would be maintenance and reloading costs which wouldn’t be inexpensive, nevertheless it looks like the big banks want to withdraw from cash transactions and move everything online.

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  11. Aside from the concerns mentioned…

    Anything that Stuart Robert is in charge of predestined to go pear shaped.

    That may yet turn out to be a plus with this legislation, however.

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  12. “Anonymity transactions will end.”

    Yeah, I always wonder if the pollies are so dumb as to allow this to happen – you can’t hardly have your Aldi bag o’ cash, now can you? If every dollar is traceable, bribery is harder to arrange – not impossible, but harder. That’s gotta slow things down – at least until they figure out their by-pass…

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  13. A joint Catallaxy submission?

    Sounds good, Squire – I’m happy to compose it, incorporating the input of Cats, should they so wish.

    We have been sleepwalking into a monstrous tyranny.

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  14. valis says:
    October 23, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Disturbing but I’m honestly not that worried. These clowns couldn’t even do contact tracing right.

    ‘Incompetence’ is a ruse.

    ‘Errors’ not only churn more money through more, New Stasi pockets, but also lull people into wrongly believing that the ‘idiots’ are no threat, as you’ve demonstrated here.

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  15. bemused says:
    October 23, 2021 at 11:02 am

    Doesn’t this marry up with the newly approved legislation regarding the ability of the feds to access and even alter what is contained in people’s social media posts etc?

    Yes it does.

    You’ll notice to how that’s a dead topic with those who’ve spent most of their online lives trashing anyone who warned that this was a real thing, just like Shadow Banning, Throttling, Kettleing & search engines burying & outright removing facts inconvenient to Global Agenda Pushers.

    You’d be heart broken to realise how many who’ve got a screech & mockery party going against those who’ve explained some of these Key Reasons the internet was ‘gifted’ to us (btw, ‘gift’ in German means ‘poison’), have turned out to be well compensated narrative controllers.

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  16. Have people become so fearful/complacent/uninterested that such a development is of absolutely no interest to them? Afraid so.

    Having only found out about this due to reading the Cat this week, I honestly find it all quite staggeringly overwhelming. We have two or three politicians in the whole country putting up any kind of argument over Covid, and the Climate boondoggle, and now this.
    “There are none so blind as those who will not see” seems to apply to my whole beloved country.

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  17. Actually, I will try in stages. First part.


    Trying again, some thoughts below for your consideration. I have not discussed the civil liberties aspects, because I think that others might be better at than aspect. Also, I suspect that the drafters might see those as a feature, not a bug. Rather, I have looked at matters with the potential to blow up in their faces, destroying their careers. This applies to both the bureaucratic and ministerial sponsors.

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  18. Second part

    Cyber security

    This has got a lot of attention recently, with Andrew Hastie, Assistant Minister of Defence, announcing proposed expenditure of some $15 billion over the next decade. This clearly suggests that his advisers on cyber security see a significant future threat.

    If there is a significant cyber security threat, then there will be grave risks in developing a consolidated database covering the personal identification details of millions of Australians from all walks of life. The strategic, political and military value of such a database cannot be overstated. The ability to steal the identities of political military and industrial leaders, and use those to cause chaos, strongly militates against this proposal.

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  19. Third part

    While it can be argued (anything can be argued) that strong cyber security can protect against hacking, the evidence suggests otherwise. Putting aside the over-confidence that belief in cyber security might give (ask the Germans, with Enigma, and the Japanese with their Second World War naval ciphers how that turned out), there have been many recent examples of supposedly secure databases being hacked. These include a US civil service database covering some 22 million staff, including many in highly sensitive jobs, and the hacking of Australian banking databases affecting tens of thousands of customers, whose personal details were compromised.

    These examples strongly suggest that a consolidated database of personal identifications would be dangerous.

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  20. Last part

    Personnel security

    The other risk is identity theft for commercial gain. This can be achieved by corrupting personnel with access to the system. The classic acronym for corrupting personnel is MICE (Money, Ideology, Conscience, Ego).

    An example of compromise of a database is the theft by way of a thumb drive of a major US NSA database some years ago. While this was apparently done for reasons of conscience, similar approaches targeting money, ideology or ego could also be successful.

    The risk of such compromise increases as the number of people with access to the database increases. In this regard, the suggestion that access will be extended from the Commonwealth, not just to states and territories, but also commercial organisations, is alarming. A database of such sensitivity should have extremely limited access, which would seem to negate its value.

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  21. Zipster:

    This digital id is just the first step for digital currency, where the government will see every single transaction, and will be able to control your ability to use your own money. Taxes will be automatically debited. Anonymity transactions will end.

    Really, it’s symptomatic of the desire of the government to grab resources to continue feeding its insatiable maw – no matter what the cost.
    In this case, the cost is our freedoms and rights. The plundering of those F&R will be the trashing of the economy that supports it. But the beast doesn’t care – it must consume resources today even if it eats all the seed grain and starves tomorrow.

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  22. “Cyber security”

    If you want a secure system, pull the internet plug – there is no other way to be sure, other than to use an “air gap”.

    VPN’s, SSL/TLS and block-chain style ledgers (printed to paper in real time) can help, but usually these just provide a way to find out that you got dudded, not really prevent stuff happening – kinda like locks on doors, which only keep out honest people.

    Usually people want things to work “out of the box”, but that is anathema to proper security – cyber or otherwise. Properly done, it is “screw the lid down to the max” and then only open up what you absolutely MUST have. And design your software with the view that every single user is a combination of evil genius and total moron – that anything and everything they enter is wrong until you can prove it isn’t. Multiple layers and redirects after sanity checks – because whatever is connected to the internet is compromised, period.
    But they never do that – well, maybe the military, but not any vital infrastructure like utilities etc.

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