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Friday, March 10, 2006

Australian ID Fraud Summit

Identity fraud continues to be a front-page news item almost daily in the US. While it's surprising that our media is not similarly full of reports about this subject, the issue is getting attention. An ID Management Summit was held on 7/8 March with the focus on preventing fraud and safe guarding Australian business infrastructure and people.

The Federal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock spoke about national ID security. According to The Australian he said that the most recent estimate is that identity fraud costs Australia at least $1 billion a year.

The part of his speech that received the most attention was about the use of identity fraud by terrorists. Without diminishing the importance of this issue, most experts seem to be more concerned about identity fraud and crime. The US Department of Justice and the UK Home Office both make it pretty clear that this is where the main concern lies.

One of Australia's experts, Roger Clarke, who spoke at the conference has published an abstract of his paper "Avoid the Mythologies of Identity Control and Re-discover a Sense of Balance and Proportion". How about this:

"A whole flotilla of myths [about identity control] has been perpetrated by national security agencies, and sponsored by governments. Over-excited vendors are pushing half-baked technologies. Fortunately for civilisation, most of them are ineffective. To the extent that these technologies work as claimed, they are far more dangerous to our society than the ills of organised crime and terrorism."

He and Mr Ruddock (who seems to have suggested that an national ID card might be one of the answers) could have had an interesting chat at morning tea given the diversity of their views, but I notice Mr Ruddock participated by video link from overseas.

Anna Johnston, Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, also spoke to the conference on privacy issues but have not yet sighted her paper.

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