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Smart Identity Cards

Many people are against the very idea of "one card for all things". This is because they have very real concerns over invasions of their privacy. They have every right to be concerned. This is because very few computers cannot and/or have not been hacked. Also, very few security procedures have not been hacked or bypassed. Due to these concerns, they prefer to have their information spread over as many places as possible. This makes it more difficult for "Big Brother" (the government and its' departments) and it's "Little Brothers" (companies) to gather information about them.

They are most concerned about:
  1. what is gathered,
  2. why it is gathered,
  3. what will it be used for (both now and in the future), and
  4. who will have access to it.
However, governments (their departments) and many companies, have the exact opposite opinion. They would rather have everyones information in the one spot to make the process of gathering, updating and using everyones information easier quicker and cheaper.

As far as I can see each side has valid points. However until a technology is developed that is both internally and externally hack proof it should not even be considered.

To view or hide an article just click on the title. To find out exactly where each article came from click in the link imbedded in the pop-up title . This will open up a window and show the original article.

Access card to go ahead despite backlash: Govt

Access card to go ahead despite backlash: Govt

Jeanne-Vida Douglas, ZDNet Australia

19 September 2007 04:43 PM

Tags: privacy, medicare, labor, identity, fraud, coalition, banking, access card

Opposition parties and privacy groups are warning that Australians may still be forced to carry the government's controversial Access Card should the Liberal Party win upcoming federal election.

Plans to rush the legislation through earlier this year were put on hold in August following public scrutiny of a draft proposal on the Access Card legislation released in late June. According to Minister for Human Services Senator Chris Ellison, over 60 submissions regarding the proposed legislation were received by the relevant Senate Committee, some of which have been published on the departmental Web site.

The government remains committed to the Access Card project ...

Minister for Human Services Senator Chris Ellison

Nonetheless, Senator Ellison confirmed the federal government's intentions to press ahead with the implementation of its controversial Access Card, should it be returned to power in the upcoming election.

"The government remains committed to the Access Card project and I am glad to see that the community have availed themselves of this opportunity to provide input that serves to strengthen the draft legislation," Senator Ellison said.

"Over 60 submissions have been received on the draft Bill from public and private organisations as well as individuals. The Access Card will affect the lives of more than 16 million Australians and, as I have said previously, I am determined that we be responsive to their views and get it right."

However, Democrat Senator Natasha Stott Despoja rejects Ellison's assertion that the government is serious about responding to the public's concerns with a new draft bill. Instead, she suggests the government's decision to postpone the legislation until after the election was essentially driven by political expediency.

"The submissions may have played a minor role but I suspect that the decision to delay the legislation was largely a poll-driven exercise. Given the very limited ways in which the revised Bills responded to concerns of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and the lack of regard which the Bills have to many of the concerns expressed by the public, the adverse comments in many of the submissions could hardly have been unexpected," Stott Despoja said.

... the adverse comments in many of the submissions could hardly have been unexpected.

Democrat Senator Natasha Stott Despoja

"I suspect the government is [attempting] to avoid further bad publicity of this nature by rushing through another controversial project."

For his part, Senator Ellison says he remains committed to the stated aims of the proposed legislation, and is not prepared to indicate to what extent the public response will be integrated into the legislation post-election.

"The Access Card is being introduced to prevent fraud and improve the delivery of government health benefits, veterans' and social services," Ellison said. "It will streamline and modernise the delivery of health and welfare payments, and will significantly reduce fraud. International accounting firm KPMG has stated that the introduction of the Access Card will save AU$3 billion over 10 years."

However, even these figures are being called into question by Shadow Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek, who is calling for the government to make the KPMG report open to public scrutiny. Reaffirming her support for the measures currently in place to prevent welfare fraud, she says the government is doing everything it can to minimise the Access Card as an election issue as it has became obvious that it is not a popular proposal.

"The government has released no evidence that shows fraud against Centrelink and Medicare is due to identity fraud," Plibersek said. "The government has refused to release information it has on fraud, including a report by KPMG, which begs suspicion that a lot of welfare and health fraud is not committed through the use of false identities."

Surfing the submissions Responses to the draft version of the legislation were varied although the overwhelming majority of those already published on the Web site criticised the Bill in its current form, while others controversially called for the functions of the card to be expanded.

The Australian Bankers Association (ABA) is calling for the government to remove parts of the legislation which would make it illegal for the card to be used as an identifier by non-government parties.

According to the ABA, this restriction is inconsistent with the policy background driving the legislation, and is calling for an exemption in situations where "there is a legal obligation to verify a customer's identity."

Calling the bill contradictory, Senator Stott Despoja suggested that this so-called "function creep" will ultimately lead to the card becoming the de facto identity card the government has consistently said it will not be implementing.

"Our main concerns include the propensity for function creep, that despite assurances the card will become an identity card," said Stott Despoja. "Submissions criticised the Bills as being highly contradictory by, on the one hand, making it an offence to demand that the Access Card be used as identification, but on the other hand allowing people to produce the card as identification if they choose to, which will inevitably lead to the card being used widely for identification purposes."

Also at issue is the lack of clarity in the bill, with organisations like the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) calling for more details on what information the card is going to contain, and expresses concern that its members will be expected to become Medicare-fraud police.

"Health professionals cannot be expected to refuse health services as a consequence of a Medicare Australia rejection relating to Medical Benefits Schedule eligibility; this has consequences in terms of policing of eligibility, as it is now directly managed at the front desk in a practice," Kate Carnell, AGPN Chief Executive Officer stated in a letter to the Access Card Senate Committee.

All we can do at this stage is speculate as to what the final bill will look like ...

Nigel Waters, policy coordinator, Australian Privacy Foundation

"AGPN has no issues with ensuring that the appropriate use of Commonwealth funds are directed to eligible patients, but the fact remains that a policing function will occur in the practice as an immediate eligibility will now be known."

Not surprisingly, the strongest criticisms of the draft legislation came from privacy and consumer advocacy groups such as the Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, and Civil Liberties Australia. Of a key concern, according to Nigel Waters, policy coordinator for the Australian Privacy Foundation, is that a re-elected government may present the poll as a mandate for the legislation in its current state.

"All we can do at this stage is speculate as to what the final bill will look like," said Waters. "It's entirely predictable that we will end up with an Access Card if the government is re-elected. We hope that if they do restart the project after the elections that there will be a response to the concerns raised in the submissions, but there's no indication at this stage that they listened to past responses, and there's no indication that they will this time either."

Access Card re-draft fails to meet critics' concerns

Access Card re-draft fails to meet critics' concerns

Jeanne-Vida Douglas, ZDNet Australia

25 June 2007 06:06 PM

Tags: access card, privacy commission, chris ellison, australian federal police, security, biometrics, national id, draft

The Australian Democrats, the Australian Labor Party and privacy groups continue to hold serious concerns regarding the federal government's proposed Access Card, after a re-draft of the legislation was released on Thursday last week.

Human Services Minister Chris Ellison released a 200-page draft proposal of its controversial Access Card bill on Thursday 21 June, just hours before the Parliament went on a six week break for Winter.

According to Ellison the draft responds to community calls for greater detail regarding the project, and the technology on which it will rely.

Releasing the bill simultaneously to the press and parliament, Senator Ellison announced the draft legislation would undergo a two-month period of public consultation, before it would be revised and brought before Parliament.

Groups including the Privacy Commission and Australian Federal Police, which had been quite critical of previous drafts of the Access Card legislation, are taking advantage of the review process rather than commenting to the media at this stage.

A spokesperson for Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis, confirmed the commission was working on a submission to the Access Card office while the Federal Police's official comment is that its concerns are being met through participation in ministerial workgroups.

Although the new draft outlines administrative review mechanisms, oversight and governance of the Access Card system, dependants, carers and other linked persons, as well as information security and protection, it has nonetheless attracted opposition calls for more detail and greater transparency.

Describing the registration process as flawed, a spokesperson for Shadow Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek said the draft proposal posed a serious threat to privacy of card holders, and was in serious danger of allowing for fraudulent card registrations.

"Labor remains concerned that the Access Card is likely to cost more and save less than the government claims," the spokesperson said. "More specifically, we are concerned that the government has not been able to show that the main source of health or welfare fraud is identity fraud and that the card may end up costing the taxpayer far more than is budgeted, and far more than identity or card fraud currently does."

Democrat Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, who participated in the Senate committee reviewing the initial Access Card proposal said this second draft contains serious flaws which could compromise card-holders basic right to privacy.

"There is no requirement to protect the microchip with the highest level of encryption, and no privacy or security breach notification requirement. This means people will have no way of knowing if their privacy has been breached," Stott-Despoja said.

The Democrats also flagged concerns regarding warrantless access to information registers, which would see the police and ASIO gather information from government databases without first seeking a court order.

"There is also uncertainty around the re-issuing and decommissioning of lost or stolen cards, how much quality health information will be on the card and which organisations will be given or have to purchase card readers to access the chips." Stott-Despoja said.

Photo ID errors
Concerns have also been raised by University of New South Wales researcher Dr Richard Kemp that the government may overestimate the effectiveness of photo ID in the prevention of fraud.

His concern is that the means to override the biometric identification will always fall back on humans, whose capacity to recognise an unknown individual from a photograph is somewhat limited.

"My research shows an extremely high rate of both false positive and false negative errors when human beings are asked to recognise people based on a photo ID," Dr Kemp said. "When you consider that we found a number of possible mistaken identities in a random group of just a hundred, without even attempting to use family members, you start to see how the effectiveness of photos can potentially be misleading."

While the kerfuffle continues regarding the nature of the legislation, technology tenders for the delivery of the cards are effectively on hold until such a time as the legislation is actually passed.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Human Services, changes to the draft legislation have not affected the requirements of the systems integrator or cards issuance and management tenders which closed in March this year.

Chris Ellison takes over Access Card reins

Chris Ellison takes over Access Card reins

Steven Deare, ZDNet Australia

06 March 2007 01:09 PM

Tags: access card, campbell, hockey, minister, smartcard, government, ellison, customs

update Justice and Customs minister Chris Ellison has been moved to the Human Services portfolio to replace Ian Campbell, Prime Minister John Howard announced today.

Ellison will oversee the introduction of the government's AU$1.09 billion health and social services Access Card following Campbell's resignation.

The card will replace 17 health and social services cards, including the popular Medicare card, and will hold a person's name, address, date of birth, Medicare number and concessional status.

Ellison (right) is the third government minister to oversee the Access Card in the life of the project.

Campbell resigned from his post on the weekend following revelations he met with disgraced former WA premier Brian Burke last year.

Burke, a convicted criminal and former premier of Western Australia, is currently at the centre of a corruption probe in the state.

Campbell has overseen Access Card developments since January, when he took over from Joe Hockey in a Howard government reshuffle.

According to the Prime Minister, West Australian David Johnston will replace Ellison as Justice and Customs minister.

Back to the future
Critics of the government, however, have swooped on the Ellison appointment, claiming his responsibility for the Australian Customs Service's Cargo Management Re-engineering (CMR) debacle raised questions about his ability to manage large-scale projects.

The botched introduction of the system for importers and customs brokers in late 2005 caused cargo to pile up at ports around the country as brokers struggled to gain clearances.

Customs later had to pay compensation to brokers affected by the system and was roundly criticised for its handling of the project in a report released this year by the federal government's official auditor.

That report stated Customs had no overall project or financial management plan for CMR, along with no budget and no proper assessment of the potential risks.

The Labor Party's Shadow Customs and Justice Minister Joe Ludwig told ZDNet Australia today that Ellison's oversight of the CMR project raised questions about his ability to administer the Access Card project.

"There's been an incredible reluctance it seems, at least on his part, to acknowledge what went wrong, so that you can have confidence that he's actually learnt from his mistakes," Ludwig said, referring to Ellison's performances when questioned about the Customs debacle.

"Now hopefully they won't be repeating those mistakes with Access Card, given its size, but the signal it sends when you're putting a minister with this sort of record in the area isn't a good one," he said.

The Australian Democrats have also stepped into the fray following Ellison's appointment, once again calling for the federal government's Access Card bill to be scrapped.

"The Government wants the bill through the Senate before March 29, yet this portfolio is about to gain its third Minister in as many months," the party's Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said in a statement. "Surely this is a sign this bill must be scrapped."

"This is one of the most ambitious government spends on infrastructure in recent years. We have to get it right or taxpayers may face blowouts."

Access Card not a general ID card: Keelty

Access Card not a general ID card: Keelty

Scott Mckenzie, ZDNet Australia

05 March 2007 11:27 AM

Tags: access card, afp, dna, federal government, federal police, id, mick keelty, smart card

The success of the proposed Access Card rests on how the private sector puts it to use, according to Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty.

Keelty believes the private sector may use the Access Card as a general ID card when its real purpose was to ensure that the "right people" receive access to needed government services such as Medicare.

"If we've got a card that will identify people to access government services, the temptation will be for the private sector to use that in a de facto way as being the pre-eminent identifier.

"We've got to work our way through that because that's not the purpose for which the card was intended," Keelty said in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney last week.

The Access Card will not rely on one single method to identify citizens, according to Keelty. There will be a combination of identifiers including biometric technology.

"Fingerprints probably are the best single identifier for anybody after DNA. DNA on a card is impractical, fingerprinting is more practical. But there's a connotation to asking the entire Australian population to provide fingerprints. Trust us they won't be used for any other purpose."

A balance needed to be struck between what the community would accept for personal accreditation and what needs to be done to produce a secure card, he added.

The card -- set to become commonplace by 2010 -- will replace 17 health and social service cards, including the Medicare card, and will contain personal data such as name, address, and concession status on a chip.

Meanwhile, Human Services minister and Access Card champion Ian Campbell resigned on Saturday. Prime Minister John Howard is expected to announce Campbell's replacement today.

Note: Another video from Keelty's address can be found here: AFP: India key to ID theft wars

Access Card chief falls on sword

Access Card chief falls on sword

Fran Foo, ZDNet Australia

04 March 2007 05:58 PM

Tags: access card, human services, ian campbell, smart card, smartcard, government, minister

Just over a month into the job, Human Services minister and Access Card champion Ian Campbell resigned on Saturday after being caught in Brian Burke's influential tentacles.
Prime Minister John Howard is expected to announce Campbell's replacement on Monday. He is still listed as the minister in-charge on the
Human Services Department Web site.

Burke, a convicted criminal and former premier of Western Australia, is currently at the centre of a corruption probe in the state. Campbell cited a meeting with him as the reason for walking. So far, three state Labor ministers have been sacked for links to Burke.

Campbell is responsible for presenting the controversial Access Card Bill to Parliament in early February.

The card -- set to become commonplace by 2010 -- will replace 17 health and social service cards, including the Medicare card, and will contain personal data such as name, address, and concession status on a chip.

The government has claimed the card is not an identity card since anyone that demands it for identification purposes could face a five-year jail term. But privacy advocates have pointed out similarities between the Access Card proposal and the failed Australia Card project.

Campbell took over the Human Services portfolio from Joe Hockey in January's Cabinet reshuffle.

Also in late January, the second request for tender was issued for a prime contractor to produce and manage the AU$1 billion health and social services access card project.

Smart card privacy laws promises made

Smart card privacy laws promises made

Article from: AAP

By Kate Corbett and David Crawshaw

February 28, 2007 08:56pm

HUMAN Services Minister Ian Campbell has left open the possibility of tightening laws protecting the privacy of people using the Federal Government's new access card.

The proposed card will replace the Medicare card and be compulsory for any Australian who wants to access up to 16 other government health and welfare services.

The introduction of the card passed its first parliamentary hurdle in the lower house today and will now go to the Senate for approval.

Amid continuing concerns about its privacy implications, Senator Campbell said current laws could be tightened if the new smart card was abused.

"I am very keen to ensure that all Australians know that their privacy will be protected ... I retain an open mind in terms of enhancing privacy around the use of the card," Senator Campbell told Parliament.

But the minister said experience showed that people who exploited their position by inappropriately using other people's personal details usually got caught.

He said around 100 of Centrelink's 38,000-strong workforce had been sacked after being caught.

"If a case of inappropriate browsing of a customer's details is found by Centrelink there are procedures to identify the person. It is very easy to identify, using electronic techniques," Senator Campbell said.

But the Australian Privacy Foundation remains strongly opposed to the card and will make its feelings known at a Senate inquiry on Friday.

"We will be calling upon the Senate committee to reject the access card proposal as unjustified, unworkable, inadequate, and a potentially costly and stupid mistake," spokeswoman Anna Johnston said.

Ms Johnston said that despite the Government's denials, the smart card would serve as an identity card.

"The access card would be a national ID card by design and effect, if not by intention. The safeguards in the Bill are woefully inadequate, with six loopholes already evident," she said.

Ms Johnston said it was outrageous to expect the Parliament to accept legislation before the Government had finished working out all the details.

The Australian Democrats say they will seek amendments to the legislation to ensure 15-year-olds are entitled to their own card.

The Federal Government has released guidelines allowing minors to access the card, but has chosen not to include the guidelines in the legislation currently before Parliament.

Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja said the guidelines were not strong enough as they could be changed by the human services minister at any time.

"If the access card is to go ahead, young people's entitlement to it should be enshrined in law, and any future proposed changes to the age limit must be debated in Parliament," she said.

'Rushed' Access Card Bill raises suspicions

'Rushed' Access Card Bill raises suspicions

Munir Kotadia, ZDNet Australia

07 February 2007 05:37 PM

Tags: ian campbell, democrats, access card, smart card, senate, government, australian privacy foundation

The federal government's introduction to parliament today of its controversial Access Card Bill has already attracted criticism from privacy advocates and the Democrats political party.

The Access Card Bill -- presented by Human Services Minister Ian Campbell today -- lays out a new national card slated to replace 17 health and social service cards, including the Medicare card. It is set to become commonplace by 2010.

The government has claimed the card was not an ID card because anyone that demanded it for identification purposes could face a five-year jail term. However as the legislation was introduced today, the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) pointed out the similarities between the proposal and the failed Australia Card project from two decades ago.

"This is a national ID card, plain and simple ... It has all the same features as the much-hated Australia Card proposal from the 1980's -- plus biometric photos to boot," said APF spokesperson Anna Johnston in a statement issued this afternoon.

"The government promised us that they would listen to the public on this one -- but today they've rushed a Bill into Parliament before they've even published all the submissions they received, let alone addressed them all ... The government keeps assuring us that privacy is foremost in its mind -- and yet the key recommendations of their own Consumer and Privacy Taskforce have been rejected," said Johnston.

In a separate statement, the Democrats slammed the government for attempting to bring in a national ID card "by stealth", and called for the Access Card legislation to be referred to a Senate committee.

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Democrats Senator for South Australia and Australian Democrats spokesperson for Attorney Generals, called for support for a Senate inquiry from the National Party.

"I hope the National Party, given their public concern about the proposed card, will support the Committee referral ... Such an inquiry would also provide an opportunity for government backbenchers to raise questions about the card, and explore their concerns. A departmental inquiry, which only accepted submissions over Christmas and only on the Exposure Draft is not adequate," she said.

The senator also expressed her concerns about the proposed card's links to Medicare and how it could impact the cost of health care.

"The concerns of organisations such as the Australian Medical Association and Australian Privacy Foundation must be listened to and addressed ... When the head of the government's own Consumer and Privacy taskforce is raising concerns, we all have reason to be afraid about the risks associated with this card," the Senator added.

Looking to the future
Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock told journalists at Parliament House in Canberra today that the government of today could not guarantee how future governments would use the Access Card. He said he hoped those seeking to change legislation would seek a popular mandate through the electoral process beforehand.

Ruddock added he had had the opportunity in his role as the Attorney-General to make sure the national Privacy Commissioner was involved in the legislative process to form the Access Card Bill, as well as advising legislators on standards in respect to identification.

"We don't want people to be able to establish fraudulent identities," he told journalists.

ZDNet Australia's Renai LeMay contributed to this article.

Centrelink Staff ID Card Takes Shape

Centrelink Staff ID Card Takes Shape
« on: November 29, 2006, 12:48:31 PM »

Centrelink ID card takes shape


23 November 2006
Centrelink staff will be the first Australian government employees to be issued with a smartcard following a request for tender, which it published yesterday.

The social services agency will combine three cards employees currently use to access Centrelink properties, into a single integrated chip, or smartcard, which will be issued in August 2007. Centrelink has 26,000 staff.

The Centrelink Staff Identification Card would standardise employee access and comply with government best practice, Centrelink said in tender documents.

The card will be the first developed in accordance with the government's fledgling Identity Management for Australian Government Employees Framework (IMAGE). Smartcards are one component of IMAGE, to be implemented across government by 2008.

For security, the card will contain a tamper-resistant, optically variable device in the form of the Australian coat of arms.
Currently, Centrelink staff carry: a photographic identity card, a Vasco token for building access, and a Vasco password-generating token for each computer logon.

"These three physical devices are carried in a single clear plastic envelope in such a fashion that the package allows all three devices to operate, but physically masks the surname of the employee from view," said the tender documents.

The new card will combine logical, physical and identity data. There will be no major changes to how staff use the card.
Centrelink said it would select its tenderer in March before the first production cards are issued in August.

Centrelink ID card takes shape

This is a copy of an article located at If you want to comment on this article go click on the link.

Centrelink ID card takes shape

Steven Deare, ZDNet Australia

23 November 2006 11:31 AM

Tags: smartcard, centrelink, vasco, identity, government, smart card, tender

Centrelink staff will be the first Australian government employees to be issued with a smartcard following a request for tender, which it published yesterday.

The social services agency will combine three cards employees currently use to access Centrelink properties, into a single integrated chip, or smartcard, which will be issued in August 2007. Centrelink has 26,000 staff.

The Centrelink Staff Identification Card would standardise employee access and comply with government best practice, Centrelink said in tender documents.

The card will be the first developed in accordance with the government's fledgling Identity Management for Australian Government Employees Framework (IMAGE). Smartcards are one component of IMAGE, to be implemented across government by 2008.

For security, the card will contain a tamper-resistant, optically variable device in the form of the Australian coat of arms.

Currently, Centrelink staff carry: a photographic identity card, a Vasco token for building access, and a Vasco password-generating token for each computer logon.

"These three physical devices are carried in a single clear plastic envelope in such a fashion that the package allows all three devices to operate, but physically masks the surname of the employee from view," said the tender documents.

The new card will combine logical, physical and identity data. There will be no major changes to how staff use the card.

Centrelink said it would select its tenderer in March before the first production cards are issued in August.

Future Directions for the Access Card Your Card – Your Security

The Hon Joe Hockey MP Minister for Human Services

Future Directions for the Access Card Your Card – Your Security

Speech to National Press Club, Canberra, on 8 November 2006

The last time I spoke here at the National Press Club was 18 months ago. During that speech, I raised the possibility that a new high-security, chip-based replacement could upgrade the existing Medicare card.

A lot has happened since then. Human Services is now established as a viable, dynamic department that is constantly looking at better, simpler and more secure ways for Australians to do business with their Government.

At the same time, it has become abundantly clear that the current system of health and welfare entitlement cards is becoming increasingly insecure and open to fraud. The Medicare card in particular is cheap and easy to copy. The AFP estimates Medicare cards are now involved in some way in more than 50 per cent of identity fraud cases.

So what have we done? The Government’s response has been to begin work on replacing our 17 health and social welfare cards and vouchers with a single smart card that has become known as the Access Card.

Smart card technology is something Australians will become very familiar with over the next few years. It is a technology widely used in Europe and many parts of Asia. It is a technology that banks are applying to credit and debit cards, and that state governments are applying to drivers’ licences and transport services. And over time, it is a technology that will be adopted by most private sector service providers.

Put simply, smart card technology is safer than the traditional cardboard and magnetic strip cards most Australians carry around in their wallets because a microchip is more secure and harder to copy.

Smart card technology offers greater privacy because it allows users to display less information on the face of the card. This means more information is kept out of the immediate view of any unauthorised person.

The microchip in a smart card delivers the capacity to securely store a limited amount of information that can be accessed only by a computer-based reader.

It’s an undeniable fact that with modern technology, stand alone cards that exist today are very vulnerable to fraud and misuse. Security and privacy concerns dictate that the card be checked against a database in order to be sure that the card is valid. That’s what happens with financial transactions on EFTPOS machines and that’s what the police do after they have pulled you over for speeding. They validate the card against a separate database.

Australia has been a complacent comfort zone for existing card technology for too long. Cards with magnetic strips are easily skimmed. Many other countries, particularly in Europe, replaced the mag strip with a microchip long ago.

The Project

The Department of Human Services hands out nearly $100 billion in health and welfare payments each year. When dealing with this amount of money it is absolutely crucial that we take fraud seriously.

This is one of the reasons why we have now allocated $1.1 billion to implement the Access Card from 2010. This is why the card will replace and upgrade the 17 cards and vouchers that are currently issued by Centrelink, Medicare, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Office of Hearing Services.

The project commenced in May and we expect to begin the national rollout on time and on budget in early 2008.

We have all of our key personnel in place. We have sought the best global advice and now more than 150 people across 23 departments and agencies are working on the project.

An important part of the implementation program was announcing that Professor Allan Fels would head up a Consumer and Privacy Taskforce that will provide regular advice on consumer issues.

Over the last few months, the Taskforce has engaged in extensive community consultation across Australia. They have met over 120 representative groups and have received more than 100 public submissions.

Like the Government, the Taskforce has had to balance competing consumer demands. Some people want a card that does everything from Medicare payments to their personal banking. One submission even suggested that the card should store shopping lists. Other submissions wanted medical records on the card whilst some people were very concerned about that particular application.

The advice from Professor Fels, which is being released today, represents a snapshot view of the project. And while you will all have the chance to read Professor Fels’ formal report today, it is important to acknowledge much of his input has already influenced the architecture of the card.

That is also why the Government is able to say that it has accepted twenty two of the twenty six recommendations. One recommendation is partially supported and one is under active consideration. Only two recommendations have not been accepted. Those two recommendations involve removing the signature and the number from the face of the card. Practical considerations have led us to reject these recommendations and I’ll touch on that a little later.

Also today I am launching an information programme. This programme will include an easy-to-read brochure that explains the card. These brochures will be available in all Medicare, Centrelink and Department of Veterans’ Affairs offices. We also have a new-look website. We want this to be as open and transparent process as possible and I encourage people to visit the website, read the information and provide feedback.

Your Card

There is still a small level of anxiety in the community that the Access Card may in some way compromise an individual’s privacy. I believe that the architecture of the card addresses this concern.

Firstly, in what I am advised may be a world information technology first, the Access Card will be owned by the cardholder and not by the issuer. That is, the Australian Government.

It’s important to remember that virtually every card in your wallet remains the property of the issuer. Your credit card, your debit card, your driver’s licence, your transport cards and even your gym membership card remain the property of the issuer. Certainly government issued cards around the world remain the property of the issuing government.

The effect of the issuer retaining ownership is that they control the card and the purpose for which it is used.

However we believe that legal ownership of the card must vest in the individual so that the Access Card will truly be YOUR CARD.

In simple terms it will be a similar arrangement to owning a car. Of course you own your car but there are legislated rules governing the design of your car and the way that you may drive the car on public roads.

We will take a similar approach to the card. And we propose to enshrine this ownership principle in legislation.

This means that you don’t have to carry your card in your purse if you’d prefer to leave it at home. This means that we are proposing legislation that no person - including the police or the banks – will be able to demand the Access Card as the only allowable form of identification.

The only requirement for presentation of the card will be if you are accessing a Federal taxpayer funded health or welfare payment. This too will be enshrined in the proposed legislation.

Your card will also have limited information on display. As this slide shows, the front of the card will only have your name and digital photo. The back of the card will have a number, your scanned signature and the card expiry date.

There will be no other information visible. In this respect the card is more secure than your driver’s licence, which has your address and date of birth clearly visible.

After considering all the advice, including Professor Fels’ recommendation, we decided to proceed with a number on the back of the card. A visible number will make it quicker and easier for people to use the card for telephone and online services.

We also decided to proceed with a signature imprint on the card. This will make it easier to cross check signatures on the 50 million forms that are completed every year at Centrelink, Medicare and other Government offices.

We have also taken other consumer needs into account. Members of the Veterans’ community who currently have gold cards, for example, will also be able to have their cards’ colour in recognition of their entitlements.

As this slide shows the card will be used as a proof of identity at our 850 Medicare, Centrelink and Veterans’ Affairs offices around Australia. Once you have registered and received your card, you will not have to repeat the present cumbersome process each time you enter an office. You will simply present your card to access the service.

You will be able to use the card as proof of entitlement with almost 50,000 doctors and pharmacists. This will immediately and reliably validate your Medicare or pharmaceutical rebate. It will make accessing the Medicare and PBS safety nets far easier and more efficient for individuals and families.

And you will also be able to use the card to receive emergency payments in disaster affected areas. Cyclone Larry and the Katherine floods presented us with enormous logistical challenges earlier this year. In both cases, emergency Government cash payments required massive security arrangements. It would have been preferable if we could have directly transferred cash to those affected.

The card may also be used by you, at your choosing, as an identification tool in the broader community. In fact it will be an even more secure identification tool than your current passport. But it may only be presented on demand for our Medicare, Centrelink and ancillary services. Our proposed legislation will prevent the card being required by a bank or other organisation as the only allowable form of identification. People may, however, choose to use the Access Card to assist in Proof of Identity.

Because ownership of the card is in the hands of the individual and because we are proposing legislation that prevents presentation of the card on demand, we will give people the option of their preferred name on the face of the card. This is possible because readers will be widely available for purchase and that the reader will enable, with the permission of the individual of course, access to the legal name. The individual will need to consent to handover the card and key in their PIN where they have opted to PIN protect this information.

This technology also allows us to expand our online service delivery. Proof of identity has been the major impediment to an expansion of online services. (As it has been with Internet banking as well!). With a $25 card reader attached to your home computer, together with PIN protection, online services can be massively expanded for our customers.

Your Security

Our current processes for claiming health and welfare services are cumbersome and time consuming. What we are proposing is a much simpler process with less hassle for you.

You will simply dock your card into a reader at an office and you’ll be able to get straight down to business. It will provide greater convenience to you the customer, and a saving on administration costs for you, the taxpayer.

Unquestionably, however, this improvement in convenience will also deliver greater security and privacy protection for individuals.

At present we have a combination of paper and electronic systems that record the personal details of all our customers. In Centrelink alone we have a massive 275 kilometres of files that includes photocopies of birth certificates, drivers’ licences and even electricity bills provided by customers who are trying to prove their identity. Medicare has to measure its records in a similar way. They have more than 3 square kilometres of storage space for forms with signatures.

We collect, and almost never reuse, this information.

Under the present system, every time you make a new claim we ask that you go through a form filling-in exercise, often giving us, again, information we already have on file somewhere.

The new card will finally put an end to this waste of time. We will be able to reuse the information that you have given us before, but only for the purposes for which you gave it to us. We can then pre-populate forms and take a lot of the pain out of the claim process.

The obvious consumer benefits of the one-time only registration for health and social services also flow to you, the taxpayer, through reduced identity fraud.

Identity fraud is one of the most challenging crimes our agencies face. Some people will go to extraordinary lengths to create a false identity or to steal the legitimate identity of someone who already has an entitlement. In a recent speech to a Counter Terrorism Summit, the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, estimated that identity fraud costs Australian’s anywhere between $1 billion and $4 billion annually. Worldwide, the cost has been put as high as $2 trillion.

At the moment people can pay around $150 for a very good fake Medicare card. This compares to $750 for a fake NSW drivers’ licence.

As a Government it is our responsibility to stop the proliferation of these fraudulent cards and the misuse of genuine cards.

I would like to give you a just a couple of examples to illustrate what is a growing problem.

In a recent case, a Centrelink customer had meticulously created false identities for 18 non-existent children. The customer had used fraudulent birth verification forms and forged letters to falsely claim benefits for nine sets of twins! A tip-off from a suspicious Centrelink employee and a subsequent investigation exposed that fraudulent activity occurred between 1999 and 2005. Over that time, the individual had stolen $623,000 from the taxpayer.

And it is not just in the welfare space that fraud occurs. Medicare has its share of fraudulent activity. We discovered a doctor in Queensland who used 21 stolen identities involving Medicare cards to obtain 19,650 narcotic medicines worth over $2 million. He was charged, convicted and jailed for five years.

In each of these cases a false identity has been created. It is far harder for us to detect fraud that involves a stolen identity.

For example, we have many smaller cases where people who are not eligible for Medicare, such as a temporary visitor to Australia, use a stolen Medicare card to get free health services. Others have used stolen Centrelink concession cards to get a discount on public transport or electricity and water bills.

All of these smaller cases, where the amount of the fraud is a few hundred dollars, add up. When you consider that more than 1 million concession cards are cancelled on a date prior to the printed expiry date on the card, there is ample room for misuse. It’s also worth noting that more than 500,000 Medicare cards are lost or stolen each year.

Another form of identity fraud involves the collusion of individuals to borrow or buy another’s identity for the purposes of getting concessional services or to access the Medicare safety net. This is the most difficult fraud for us to detect and it represents a significant opportunity for taxpayer savings and privacy protection.

This is a significant honeypot for fraudsters. A regular pensioner concession is valued at $2000 per year. Access to the Medicare and PBS safety nets is also extremely lucrative for a compliant partner in crime.

As I said, identity theft costs the economy billions of dollars each year. So it is not surprising that with identity fraud growing, the latest Unisys Security Index shows that 59 per cent of all Australians are extremely or very concerned about the threat of identity theft.

The Unisys survey also found that 98 per cent of Australians are willing to use extra security features to protect themselves from threats such as identity fraud and misuse of personal information.

We do not know the exact size of the problem in the health and welfare space. The best estimates range from a few percent to about ten percent. When KPMG did its business case on the Access Card, they said that we could recoup up to $3 billion over ten years.

KPMG said it was a conservative estimate. I think this is a very conservative estimate. I expect that we will do much better than that. Certainly in comparable countries in Europe, such as Germany, the estimated savings on “leakage” is around 1.6 per cent of outlays.

This year we will spend around $100 billion on health and welfare services in my department. So, even a small percentage loss represents billions of dollars.

Under the current multiple card system we have difficulty in detecting fraudulent use at the time a card is presented. We need to be absolutely certain that we are paying the right person for the right service, every single time.

The Access Card will go a long way to fixing these structural weaknesses in the current system. Instead of catching people after the event, we will be able to put a greater emphasis on prevention of fraud and overpayment at the point of sale. This is what the new card system is designed to deliver. That’s why the Access Card will have these extra security features built in.

Most of your important personal information will be on the chip and protected from plain view, as this slide shows. This part of the chip is called the locked zone.

However there is significant demand for the card to be able to store other information. We are therefore creating a Customer Controlled part of the chip. You will be able to customise your card with the addition of personal information like emergency contact details, next of kin, allergies, organ donor status and health alerts. You will be able to add other information that you may wish to include.

Many people find it risky holding a card in their wallet that details their allergies or medical conditions. And for those people who have allergies and have to wear a wristband or a tattoo noting they are haemophiliacs or are allergic to penicillin for example – there is no privacy. Many simply refuse to be branded.

Therefore we are creating a customer controlled area in the chip where individuals can store the information they want to store in the chip. In simple terms it makes the Access Card similar to a mini-iPod, where you can download limited amounts of information on to the microchip and carry it around in your wallet or purse.

Consumers value having a safe place to keep their data but we are aware of the privacy risks involved which is why I’m asking Professor Fels to examine this issue further. One option could be for the information to be held on the chip and on a separate database chosen by the individual.

If necessary we will put in place appropriate protections in relation to this information. 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.

Additional Security

We are designing a robust registration process for the card that will be convenient to Australians. We have designed the card and the database, which we are calling the Secure Customer Registration Service, to include a high resolution digital photograph and digitised signature. A photograph will ensure that everyone registers only once in the system.

We will also check birth certificates and passports with the original issuing authorities to ensure that forged or duplicate documents are not being used to fraudulently register people who have no entitlement to a card.

In addition, one of the most important security features will be the technology that will allow us to validate the cards when they are used in a reader. We will be able to immediately detect altered cards. Fake cards inserted into the reader simply will not work. The inability to instantly check the validity of our current cardboard and plastic cards is a major drawback.

Last year, I said that the smart card was a set of keys that would open a number of doors to a range of government services and benefits. That, of course, is a great benefit – a plus. This set of keys must have the best possible security and privacy protections in place.

I am totally committed to a card design that will give all of us confidence that we have made a significant improvement on security and privacy over what we have now.

This slide shows how our system will work. Step 1 you dock your card in a reader and it goes through to the Secure Registration Service to validate the card.

If the card is valid then in STEP 2, the agencies and users listed will be able to call up their own records in order to provide you with a service. Clearly their records are separate to the card and its records.

I am committed to an open and transparent sharing of information about our system design, so that you can have confidence that we have chosen the best approach.

There will be no ‘Big Brother’. We will not be amalgamating the agency databases or creating a centralised database holding all your information in one place. We will keep your existing agency records with the relevant agency – where they are now.

The new card will assist us to improve the security and privacy of your information held by our agencies.

In recent years we improved our staff computer access monitoring at Centrelink. The new software enables us to see if agency staff are inappropriately browsing customer records.

You may have read that we had a number of (now ex-) staff in our agencies who we found to have browsed customer files when they had no right to do so. We dismissed 19 staff and accepted 92 resignations for inappropriate browsing. We did this because it is important that people know that their information is protected from misuse.

Your personal details must be protected and I make no apologies for my agencies’ strict adherence to a zero tolerance policy of unauthorised staff browsing of customer records.

It should go without saying that it is much easier to deliver privacy with electronic records than with paper copies of your personal details held in files. After the new card system is fully operational, I will seek to destroy old paper customer records that are no longer required to be held in our agencies.

I see no reason for holding information on people in our paper files for unjustified or unlimited periods of time, if it is not required by law.


I recognise that some of you in the audience are more than interested in what we’re doing on the procurement front.

I can let you know now that we are going to implement this infrastructure project in four separate tranches.

Our staff are working hard to prepare the packages to be put to market and my Department is planning to conduct an industry briefing to give you more detail this side of Christmas.

We will seek tenders to enable us to establish a panel of card suppliers. One of these suppliers will also provide card management software for more than 16.7 million cards.

A systems integrator will be sought to provide and install hardware and proven software that delivers the card customer system and the card operations system.

The tender process for the systems integrator is also likely to include the supply of several thousand digital cameras, printers and scanners and potentially more than 500 booths for card registration.

A request for tender will also be released to cover the acquisition of an estimated 15,000 terminals for use by Commonwealth agencies.

We are also looking at establishing a list of accredited providers of transaction services. This would involve external parties providing their own terminals and networks to assist in the delivery of some of the functions of the Access Card.

There are significant opportunities for Australian industry to get involved in this exciting program, and the Government looks forward to sharing more information about these opportunities with you in the coming weeks.

Finally, I would like to say something about the registration process.

The task of registering 16.7 million Australians over two years from 2008 to 2010 will be challenging. We will have to register about 32,000 people per business day. We will try to make this as easy a process as possible.

Professor Fels’ Taskforce 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. Professor Fels will consider these submissions and provide further advice to me on consumer issues relating to this project.

In conclusion, let me return to where I began. My strong belief is that good government includes the successful delivery of services only to those entitled to the service.

We must use the best possible technology that will enhance consumer choice, minimise fraud, provide greater privacy and security and, most importantly, make dealing with government agencies easier for you.

Through smart card technology we will be able to improve the customer experience and better protect the information that individuals entrust to their Government.