Biometric Update: Australian Digital ID Bill draws feedback from finance, business, civil rights groups

The Digital ID Bill, initially presented to Parliament in November following over three years of development, is now concluding its period for receiving submissions in a parliamentary inquiry. 

In their submissions many civil rights groups have expressed concerns around misuse of biometric data and privacy. In contrast to these submissions buiness and financial groups argue that the proposed system could play a pivotal role in enhancing identity security and verification.

In 2023 the Digital ID Bill was redrafted after pressure from advocates, who urged the Albanese government to implement stricter restrictions on law enforcement access to biometric information. New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) says that “there should be no law enforcement access… with or without a warrant” in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry on the Digital ID Bill.

While NSWCCL says it endorses codification of the Australian Government Digital Identity System, especially in light of recent high profile data breaches, it notes the need for an effective legal framework to address security concerns and the potential for data misuse, particularly by law enforcement.

The NSWCCL also advocates for a bill of rights to accompany the legislation, as Australia is the only liberal democracy without an enforceable human rights framework, while other countries implementing digital IDs are built on such frameworks.

It also calls for safeguards in line with international human rights standards, particularly Article 2 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that indigenous peoples “have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination… in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.”

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