Australian privacy task force eyes Access Card

A summary of recommendations made by the Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce in Australia headed by Professor Allan Fels has listed 26 issues requiring rectification by the government before implementing the Access Card.

The government has agreed to all but two of the recommendations, with many centreed around appropriate legislation relating to information ownership and infrastructure security.

The report, released Wednesday, sought further clarification on the way data is to be shared within government agencies, especially proposed legislation further covering use of the Access Card.

“Existing privacy, confidentiality and other legislative protections of information will be upheld and will not change with the introduction of the Access Card. The proposed Access Card legislation will provide additional protections unique to the Access Card and its operation,” the report states.

“Clarification will be provided about the way in which data is treated/transferred/shared within the government and the protections that exist in current legislation and protections that are proposed in the Access Card legislation. “Legislation will ensure that the Access Card is not a national identity card, not required to be carried at all times and not be able to be demanded outside health and social service purposes.”

The report stated further work needs to be done to assess the “value and utility of including the digitized signature on the Access Card itself, noting that the task force’s preferred it not to be included.

The government disagreed with this recommendation, saying it has “consulted widely in its assessment on the value of a digitized signature concluding that a digitized signature on the card provides greater utility and security for the cardholder”.

The report also recommended an identifiable number be removed from the proposed card and perhaps make the inclusion of such a number the cardholder’s choice.

The government rejected this recommendation stating the number will aid service delivery for telephone and Internet-based services and secret identity questions and PIN numbers provide an additional level of security.

Human Services Minister Joe Hockey said Professor Fels, Chairman of the Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, will be charged with examining the privacy implications for consumers further.

“All protections will be made available for public comment before final proposals are put to the government on how the Access Card information is to be collected, verified and stored,” Hockey said.

“One option could be for the information to be held on the chip on a separate database chosen by the individual and if necessary we will put in place appropriate protections in relation to this information.

“Professor Fels’ task force will be issuing another discussion paper this month that will canvass various issues relating to the registration process. He will be seeking submissions from the public.”

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