Media release: Digital ID scheme has so much promise but it’s up to Parliament to ensure social licence


The move towards a credible and secure Digital ID has large potential privacy benefits if done well and clear risks if it is rushed or mishandled. 

Today the Parliamentary inquiry into the Digital ID scheme provided its report on the Bill. The Committee received hundreds of concerned submissions from members of the public and organisations with concerns about privacy, ensuring protections for those who won’t or can’t access digital ID and bias in technology including facial recognition. 

The dissenting report from Greens Senator David Shoebridge describes these concerns in greater detail and is available here in the report. 

Greens Senator and Digital Rights Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: 

“This Bill represents a unique opportunity to rebuild trust in the Government’s digital capability. 

“It is clear from the many hundreds of individual submissions that have expressed serious concerns about the privacy implications of a Digital ID, that the Government has not yet earned this trust. 

“The bill does not create a ‘honeypot’ of new data so it’s unfortunate that the Government is insisting on granting law enforcement bodies access to the scheme.

“Insisting on law enforcement having access to the scheme gives the impression that there is a large and useful data set that police and security agencies will want to access. This is not true, the Bill only allows for the interrogation of existing secure databases that already exist at a state and federal level.  

“Insisting on law enforcement access to the Digital ID scheme creates the false impression that it creates a new honeypot of data and that inevitably undermines public confidence in the reform.

“The Greens want to ensure that a new digital ID does not further the existing digital divide in the community.

“If people can’t access a digital ID, or choose not to have one, then then they must still have reasonable access to critical services and not be excluded from participating in social or economic activities. 

“An inclusive digital ID system must be designed as inclusive from the ground up with particular attention to disability inclusion. A simple step here is including proof of age cards as recommended by Blind Citizens Australia.

“We also share the concerns of many groups that uncritical use of biometric and facial matching data could perpetuate existing biases. There needs to be a solid plan to ensure this isn’t baked into the scheme from the beginning. 

“Every one of these concerns can be addressed by well directed amendments in the Senate and the Greens will be working with the government and other parties to achieve this,” Senator Shoebridge said.