Dear All,

The following is a submission by Ron Hutchins to the Australian Parliament. It details his objections to the proposed legislation which will introduce digital IDs into Australia, probably for everyone.

Please either send a copy of the whole letter or cut and paste a section out and tell them this is what you agree with.

We must oppose this completely. Submissions can be made here but must be in by tomorrow night at midnight (19/01/2024).

This is important, please send in something at least. As Chairman Mao observed, “quantity has a quality all of its own.”

Kind regards

Harry

DIGITAL ID

(Transitional and Consequential Provisions)

Bill 2023


(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher) https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=s1404

In reply to the proposed Digital ID and the later Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023, we detail our objections below.Indeed, our concerns are many, however we highlight the following exerts from the proposed bill that are of greatest concern:

1:           “Voluntary inclusion”

“The Digital ID Bill 2023 (the Bill) aims to provide individuals with secure, convenient, voluntary and inclusive ways to verify their identity for use in online transactions with government and businesses.”

It is not clear that voluntary inclusion will not become mandatory to access Government Services or transact business with “approved and trusted businesses”.  This would result in discrimination of those who wish to keep their personal information offline. Indeed, the very wording of “leaving no-one behind “suggests there is a plan to make this mandatory in the future.  Therefore, we reject the proposed bill because there are no guarantees that inclusion will not eventually be necessary to transact business with both the government and ‘trusted ’business partners.

2:           Security of personal information

“Promoting trust in digital ID services, including by ensuring less data is shared and stored, and in a more secure way.”

Given the recent widespread data security breaches in Australia, within telecommunications providers and business and government departments, it is concerning that all personal information would be stored online in a central databank. This centralized databank will require much higher security than is currently available. A centralized databank also offers a treasure-trove of content for hackers and actors who may wish to engage in identity theft and financial fraud.  There is strong public mistrust in the ability of governments, and much less business organizations, to keep personal data safe and secure. There are no guarantees that personal information would be secure and therefore we reject assurances by the Government, of personal security.

3:           Establishing the ACCC as regulator

“Ensure users are protected; and strengthen governance arrangements for the Accreditation Scheme and the AGDIS, including by establishing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as the Digital ID Regulator.”

Given the record of the ACCC it is concerning they would be given additional powers over every Australian’s personal details, given their unimpressive record of managing their current responsibilities. In addition, this new ‘Regulator’ represents yet another layer of (dubious) government control and intervention. A Liberal Democracy supports smaller government, less control, and more personal freedoms.  Clearly the proposed bill and it’s associated additional ‘cops on the beat’ (ACCC) are an anathema and must be strongly rejected.

4:           Australians did not ask for a Digital ID

 “Digital IDs provide people with a convenient, re-usable way to verify who they are when transacting online, without having to repeatedly provide copies or details of their most sensitive ID documents”.

There have been three (3) federal elections since the draft ‘Trusted’ Digital ID Bill was written by the Coalition Government, yet this issue was never put to the Australian people to vote on at the ballot box. In short – we never asked the government to create such a platform.  It appears the government believes it has a mandate to impose this ‘voluntary’ measure onto the population without majority consent. It is strongly suspected that the Digital ID coincides with the World Economic Forum (WEF) push for a planned One World Government. The Australian Government appears to be following a parallel path to the WEF ‘Great Reset’ agenda and the abhorrent example of Communist China’s digital control system.  Australians did not ask for a Digital ID, and the Federal Government must get their consent through the ballot box or via a referendum, with full disclosure of the advantages and disadvantages. No consent has so far been given for a Digital ID.

5:           Reduction of cyber-crime and scams

 “Expanding the use of digital IDs will help reduce the impact of data breaches, scams and cybercrime”. 

The opposite could reasonably be expected to occur, when having all personal data in one convenient ‘data wallet’, making cyber-hacking easier and faster. Having data stored on different platforms provides more security, where personal information is less condensed and more difficult to obtain. Cross contamination of security breaches between numerous data platforms is therefore less likely.  

The prevalence of major cyber attacks in Australia has escalated over recent years.

Below is a list cyber-attacks affecting the personal data of millions of Australians:  

  • Canva                                                             May 2019                         Affected 137 million users.
  • Latitude                                                         March 2023                      Affected 14 million users.
  • Optus                                                             September 2022              Affected 9.8 million users.
  • Medibank                                                      December 2022               Affected 9.7 million users.
  • Proctor U                                                       July 2020                          Affected 440,000 customers.
  • Australian National University (ANU)       November 2020               Affected 200,00 students.
  • Eastern Health                                              March 2021        `              Affected 4 hospitals.
  • Service NSW                                                 April 2020                         Affected 104,000 people.
  • Melbourne Heart Group                             February 2019                 Affected 15,000 patients.
  • Australian Parliament House                     February 2019                 Affected Liberal, Labor, and National Partys
  • Tasmanian Ambulance                               January 2021                   Affected every ambulance patient 2020/21
  • Northern Territory Government                February 2021                 Involved 4,400 emails.
  • Western Australian Government              March 2021                      Impact unknown to date.

It is alarming, that despite efforts seemingly taken by large corporations and governments, cyber-attacks and data-breaches are escalating. It is naïve at best, and dangerous at worst, to proceed with this legislation when current systems remain incapable of securing personal data.

Indeed, cyber-attacks are on the increase in Australia. In 2023 attacks surged by 23%, (with over 94,000 reports to law enforcement) costing approximately $1.9 billion.  According to an analysis by the Australian National University (ANU), one in three Australians have been exposed to data breaches in the last 12 months. ASD reports “critical infrastructure tends to have a broad attack surface, remote access, connected systems and third parties which make it of interest to malicious actors.”

Without first addressing the growing cyber-attacks with strong defensive systems, expanding the range of potentially hackable ‘data-dense digital products’, such as digital IDs, on one central platform presents a higher (not lower) risk of cyber-crime and scams, therefore we strongly oppose this bill.

6:          ‘Economy-wide digital system’

“Accreditation Scheme and to enable the expansion of the AGDIS to an economy-wide digital ID system.”

A digital-wide economy must, by definition, include a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and therefore the removal of cash as legal tender.  Removing cash from the economy denies anonymity of transactions and potentially allows for government surveillance of all purchases. The Australian public has not been consulted by the government to arbitrarily remove cash. Many elderly Australians and new migrants will be disadvantaged by an economy-wide digital system creating discrimination and division.  The Federal Government has had many opportunities to consult with the Australian public on changing the current system to an ‘economy-wide digital system’. They have not done so, and therefore we reject this attempt which has no mandate from the people.     

7:          Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) to replace cash as legal tender

Please refer to the above #6

Without taking the issue of CBDCs to the Australian public, the government has no mandate to change the current financial system.  The use of CBDCs (and programmable digital currencies) along with a Digital ID, can effectively give governments total control over Australian’s purchasing choices and opens opportunities to ‘punish’ political dissidents by way of direct debits, reduction of value in digital wallet balances (programmable digital currency) and closure of bank accounts.  This has already happened in Canda, Britain, and NZ during the ‘pandemic’ where opponents of the mandates and lockdowns were punished by their governments via their banks.  

It is worth noting that CBDC’s are a necessary component of a Social Credit System, such as is being used in China under their Communist Government.  The combination of digital IDs and CBDCs allows government full control over people’s money and movements.  In any western liberal democracy, this should be strongly rejected. Australians have never voted for CBDCs to replace cash.

8:          Digital Wallets and national security

Please refer to #6 and #7.   

“The Bill will provide for the Minister to make rules to regulate the accreditation of other kinds of services in the future. For example, potential future roles could be providers of digitally verifiable credentials or Digital ID wallets”.

Digital Wallets are vulnerable to cyber-security attacks.  Having all personal details, including tax file numbers, drivers license details, passport details, Social Security numbers, health records, vaccination records, work history, credit cards and bank accounts etc., is a potential honeypot for hackers and an excuse for government ‘discrimination’ and punitive responses. 

In the event of an EMP attack, (electric-magnetic pulse) ALL digital systems would be disabled, bringing the nation to a halt.  Any activity that depends on electronic devices would be disabled. Without alternative methods of verifying credentials and transacting business, citizens, and the nation would suffer enormous social and economic damage.  There is a strong argument to maintain current manual systems to run in parallel with the proposed voluntary Digital Wallets, CBDCs and Digital IDs to ensure both personal, and national security, is secure at all times.

9:           Expanding the scheme to private sectors

“Following commencement of the Bill the AGDIS is planned to expand over time to include other government and private sector entities that choose to participate. Some of these entities will likely also participate in other digital ID systems”.

It is unclear what government and private sector entities will be chosen to participate in the sharing of personal information. This is not only about convenience for the individual, but economic advantage and cross-departmental control by the government, all readily accessible in one convenient digital platform.  Australians rejected the Australia Identity Card in 1985.  Human Rights advocates have consistently argued that not only will such initiatives turn nations into more authoritarian societies, but they will fundamentally change for all time the relationship between citizen and state, the nature of government, and the character of the nation.

10:        The role of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)

The United Nations has launched a “50-in-5” campaign to accelerate digital ID, digital payments, and data-sharing in 50 countries by 2028. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has announced plans to rollout ‘digital IDs worldwide’ which will be mandatory for people who wish to participate in society.   

It is fair to assume that the proposed Digital ID & Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023, is based on the above UN initiatives and aims to include All member states by 2030.  The World Economic Forum (WEF) is also actively promoting digital IDs, digital payments and CBDCs (central bank digital currencies) along with data sharing.

Claims of inclusion, sustainable development goals and “protecting the rights or safety of children” is a well-known tactic of these unelected supranational bodies, who, without evidence or explanation, seek to seize more control, deliver less social inclusion, force more surveillance, and enable punitive actions against those nations and citizens who dissent.

In conclusion:

  1. It is suspected that in introducing the Digital ID & Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023,theAustralian Government is following the lead of the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, putting their interests before that of the Australian people. This bill is not a result of requests from the Australian people, and it is therefore strongly opposed.
  • It is also recognized that the Australian Government has made only cursory efforts to engage with the Australian population with regards the above bill. Such extensive changes to personal data, privacy, and security must be taken to the people via the ballot box or by referendum.  The Government does not have a mandate to proceed.
  • The Government has not demonstrated any ability to stop cyber-attacks, or to ensure the security of sensitive data.  This should raise red flags to the potential dangers of condensing the available data into one location under the Digital ID platform. This fact alone should result in the abandonment of this bill. 

Submissions can be made here:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/DigitalIDBills2023

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