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Issue #1830      July 11, 2018

Editorial

Govpass to repression

The Department of Human Services is to become the federal government’s manager of digital identities after being selected to build the identity provider solution that will be used for the Govpass platform.

The government announced $92.4 million in funding for the Govpass digital identity program in the 2018-19 Budget, with $60.9 million earmarked for an “accelerated implementation” by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).

“The Govpass program will allow users to create their digital identity and use this digital identity to engage with services online. This funding will include a public trial of approximately 100,000 tax file number (TFN) applications being completed online,” the Budget papers said. The delivery of Govpass will include a pilot for users to create a digital identity and complete a Tax File Number application online from end to end.

“Govpass will unlock access to a host of online services, while reducing the burden on individuals to have to prove who they are each time they want to make a transaction,” a statement from Human Services Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan and Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said.

The information held on individuals by agencies such as Medicare, Centrelink will be centralised in a single data base but accessible through computer links and the use of the cardholder’s identity number. There are suggestions that Medicare numbers will be used as the ID number, in a form to comply with international conventions.

Once registered, it is possible to apply for the Access Card, and details of this card including personal ID number are included on the register.

It is clear from the government’s activities in other areas that it is only matter of time before other sorts of information are added to or linked to the centralised register and secret areas of the card.

These could range from religion, sexuality, political affiliation and activities, work permits, criminal record, places visited, close associates, and be used by employers, military, police, intelligence organisations, immigration. Banks have a particular interest in access to such information as the current Royal Commission into their activities makes clear.

In the present conditions, with the federal government’s beat-up on terrorism, the demonising of Muslims, government advertisements creating fear and insecurity, the fostering of nationalism of the worst type, wide-ranging anti-democratic ASIO and terrorism laws, the massive attack on trade unions and employer offensive on wages and conditions, a national centralisation of personal information of such proportions should be viewed as extremely dangerous.

The private sector is set to make a killing.

Their involvement also raises serious security concerns. They are not accountable to Parliament, they will be subcontracting to other contractors and who knows where some of the data collected will end up or how it will be used.

The government will also use the system to take a more punitive approach in cutting welfare payments as part of its plan to wind back services.

The Govpass must be opposed and stopped. It is being rushed through at top speed, the period of public consultation was non-existent. The Communist Party of Australia opposes the introduction of the system.

It is important to pressure the major political parties and build as broad a movement as possible to defeat it. The involvement of trade unions in this struggle is imperative. Trade unionists and workers in general will be on the receiving end of Govpass, with its net being cast wide to include progressive political activists and silence all voices of dissent.

Next article – New ATO building will lock in massive job cuts

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