Pirate Party Australia Sounds Alarm on Privacy Risks of New Identity Verification Laws

Pirate Party Australia has sounded the alarm over the potential risks to personal privacy posed by the newly introduced Identity Verification Services (IVS) Bill 2023. This bill claims to bolster identity verification processes but instead introduces new risks to Australians.

“While it’s good that there’s finally going to be a legislative framework here, we’re concerned about the lack of detail regarding protections for Australians against abuses of power and misuses of data,” said Miles Whiticker, party president. “This Bill falls short on transparency and accountability, components that are essential in upholding trust and integrity in how personal data is handled by the government.”

The Pirate Party is pushing for refined and comprehensible guidelines that outline the use and protection of citizens’ identities. It is critical for individuals to be fully informed and to grant explicit consent prior to having their information verified through the new system. Such informed consent is necessary for individuals to make decisions that are in their best interest regarding their personal data.

“The debate surrounding this Bill has also been characterised by an inadequate level of public engagement and consultation,” Mr Whiticker continued. “In our view, a more inclusive approach is required—one that factors in a wider array of perspectives from the Australian community, ensuring that the system reflects the public’s concerns and expectations in relation to digital identity verification.”

Going further, the Pirate Party proposes alternatives that could strike a better balance between the needs of identity verification and safeguarding personal privacy. International best practices for guidance include the strict privacy protocols in models like the GDPR in Europe, which was implemented with the support of the European Pirate Party, and Canada’s Digital Charter. Such systems place a strong emphasis on gaining user consent, reducing the retention of personal data, and implementing stringent controls over data management. These international examples provide a blueprint for amending the current IVS Bill to better respect privacy, affirm user control over personal identity data, and ultimately ensure that Australia’s own policies are in lockstep with leading global standards. Finally, the privacy protections in the IVS Bill must be bought up to the standards of the proposed Digital ID Bill.

Pirate Party Australia reaffirms its dedication to defending the privacy of Australians in the face of advancing digital technology. The party is calling for a comprehensive reassessment of the IVS Bill to fully address the issues highlighted and invite a progressive dialogue to realign the Bill with core principles of digital rights and privacy.