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Roger Clarke's 'A Nightmare-Free Australia Card?'

Smart Cards and Biometrics: Is a Nightmare-Free Australia Card Feasible?

Roger Clarke **

Abstract of 22 March 2006

Invited Presentation to the A.C.T. Society of Technology and the Law, Canberra, 23 March 2006

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The term 'Australia Card' is embedded in the national psyche as a byword for the ultimate in privacy-invasiveness by the State. But technology has moved on since the mid-1980s. Is it possible to conceive of a national identification scheme that uses such things as smartcards and biometrics in ways that limit the power of the State and corporations, and avoid the nightmare.

This presentation:

In short:

  1. there are indeed ways in which Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) can be devised to as to provide antidotes to various aspects of Privacy Invasive Technologies (the PITs); but
  2. a nightmare-free Australia Card is not feasible, because assertions of benefits are illusory, and often downright fraudulent; the features that could ameliorate the impacts on privacy are grossly inadequate; and such schemes can never be proof against despots


This presentation draws on over 20 years' research, consultancy and advocacy experience in relation to these topics. Papers directly relevant to this topic are indexed here.

The following are of specific relevance:

My lengthy list of publications in related areas is indexed here.

Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre at the University of N.S.W., a Visiting Professor in the E-Commerce Programme at the University of Hong Kong, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University.

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From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

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Created: 22 March 2006 - Last Amended: 22 March 2006 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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