Businesses Can Join National Digital ID Program Within 2 Years

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Debate on the national digital ID system has been shut down, according to One Nation senators.

Private businesses will be able to join the national digital ID system within two years under amendments proposed by the government.

The Digital ID Bill 2023 (pdf) was introduced to the Australian Senate on March 27.

Australians can already voluntarily use a digital ID to sign up for government services including MyGov, Centrelink, Medicare, and the Australian Tax Office.

However, the digital ID legislation is set to broaden this system for use by state and territory governments, and eventually the private sector.

In a bid to secure support from key independents and possibly the Coalition, Minister for Finance and Public Service Katy Gallagher has made some changes.

In a summary of the amendments provided to The Epoch Times, Minister Gallagher noted key changes that would be moved by the government during the debate.

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“The amendment provides that accredited private businesses will be able to apply to join the Australian government Digital ID System within two years of commencement of the Act,” Ms. Gallagher’s office confirmed.

“Private businesses cannot currently join the system and this amendment is intended to give interested businesses confidence that the government will expand the system to accredited private sector entrants within a 2-year timeframe.”

Further amendments around privacy, data retention, and deactivation of digital IDs have also been suggested by the government.

“The government will also support amendments that confirm the voluntary use of digital ID and ensures that the alternative ways to verify ID to access services are easy to use and don’t disadvantage those who do not want a Digital ID,” the minister’s office said.

Another amendment will require that a digital ID cannot be reactivated or used without consent if it is deactivated.

Service providers of the digital ID will also be restricted from retaining personal information when it is no longer needed.

“It will make the Information Commissioner responsible for regulating the data destruction requirements for service providers within the Australian Government’s Digital ID System (AGDIS),” the office said.

Finally, the amendments are designed to lower the burden on accredited small businesses providing digital ID services by applying the Privacy Act automatically.

“This removes the need for accredited small businesses to opt-in to coverage by the Privacy Act,” Minister Gallagher’s office said.

No Debate on Digital ID: One Nation Warns

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts raised concerns the digital ID Bill could be rushed with no debate.

In a post to X on March 27, Mr. Roberts said Labor, Greens, and independent Senators Lydia Thorpe and David Van had voted to “ram digital ID through the Senate tonight with no debate.”

A day earlier in the Senate on March 26, Mr. Roberts said the bill would ensure “every Australian has a government-backed digital identity that must be shown to access daily services.”

“Transport; shopping; banking, including ATMs; the internet; and much more. If you’ve heard the phrase ‘papers, please’ in connection with totalitarian regimes and wondered how people accepted that, wonder no more,” Mr. Roberts said (pdf).

“The digital ID is paired with legislation previously passed through this parliament that allows government and business to scan everyday Australians’ faces in real-time as we go about our business.”

Liberal Party Senator Presents Petition

Meanwhile, Liberal Party Senator Alex Antic has written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese raising concerns about the digital ID on March 25.

The senator gathered 123,000 signatures in an online petition.

“Many of you heard me talking about it because mainly of my concern about where this heads,” Mr. Antic said.

“This is a bill at the moment that’s pitched as though it is simply for your security, it will set up a nice friendly ID system so that you can interact with government, can interact with business.

“But I don’t buy it. This is the first step, well the next step, in another long step towards a digital future which you don’t want.”

NAB Says 46 Percent of Australians Ready for National ID

Meanwhile, National Australia Bank (NAB) has revealed in a survey that 46 percent of Australians were ready to sign up for the program.

The bank said its research showed 14 percent of Australians were “very likely” to sign up to a digital ID, with a further 32 percent saying they were “likely” to do so.

However, 38 percent of Australians said they were undecided, 8 percent were “very unlikely” to join, and 7 percent were unlikely to sign up.

“While this research is encouraging, there is work to do to demystify some of the key concepts underpinning Digital ID systems and the developments happening in this space in Australia and internationally,” the NAB said.

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