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The idea of being monitored or watched has never sat well with humans. A quick look at the action flicks on your favourite streaming service will serve up a host of bleak dystopian thrillers where citizens have lost control of their personal information, privacy, and freedom. However, our fear of being controlled is usually tempered with the desire to be safe and secure.
The idea of being monitored or watched has never sat well with humans. A quick look at the action flicks on your favourite streaming service will serve up a host of bleak dystopian thrillers where citizens have lost control of their personal information, privacy, and freedom.
However, our fear of being controlled is usually tempered with the desire to be safe and secure.
Citizens around the globe are currently being asked to contemplate this compromise with the introduction of government-led COVID-19 tracking and tracing apps.
In Australia, the COVIDSafe app records contact between registered users. According to Government Services Minister, Stuart Robert, health authorities only utilise the data gathered when a registered user tests positive to COVID-19, to help identify who they have been in contact with.
Use of the app in Australia is on a voluntary basis only, with the government stating that fines and gaol sentences will apply to any person or business that attempts to strongarm individuals into using the app.
While the payoff for registering to use the app is clear – more control over the spread of this deadly virus – for many the concept of government-led monitoring is too high a price to even consider.
In fact, most attempts to introduce identity-based digital security solutions at a national level in Australia have been met with outrage and cries of distrust. Whether it is the use of technology, such as biometrics or facial recognition apps, or a digital platform to facilitate the online identification of citizens, such suggestions are often pilloried by civil rights groups, politicians, and the media.
The information collected by government organisations that forms a person’s digital identity is highly sensitive and should be treated with the utmost respect and security. Citizens should never hesitate to question who can see it, how it will be used and where it is stored.
But what if citizens thought differently about their identity? What if citizens saw their identity as a powerful asset, not a tool for control or setting limits?
Every human has the right to be recognised as an individual and has a right to an identity.
Our personal information, from our name, date of birth, gender and nationality – everything that’s recorded on our birth certificate and passport identify us as a citizen of society who is able to enjoy essential social services such as health care, education and judicial protection.
Without an identity we are invisible. In fact, without proper ID documents, we have no power before the law.