20 July 2012

Reassurance or rhetoric

The report noted in the preceding post came a day before news that Attorney-General Roxon had chaired the eighth meeting of the Business-Government Advisory Group on National Security. The group is The advisory group is characterised as "a high level forum for Australia’s business leaders to discuss security issues with Australian Government Ministers and security, intelligence and law enforcement senior officials".

The eighth meeting was concerned with the strengthening of identity security and presumably included some discussion of the rather murky national intelligence legislation proposals highlighted here and in my more detailed article in this month's Privacy Law Bulletin.

The media release accompanying the meeting states that
 The group met in Melbourne to discuss identity crime, identity security measures, and other security challenges faced by Australian companies. 
“Identity security is important because it underpins our objectives for national security, law enforcement and, more broadly, the national economy,” Ms Roxon said. 
Attendees, including more than 20 industry leaders, received confidential briefings from the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Federal Police, and the Attorney-General’s Department. 
“Identity crime is one of the top three enablers of serious and organised crime in Australia, and it can have serious financial implications for business, governments and individuals,” Ms Roxon said.
One might hope that the analysis shared with the supremos was somewhat more rigorous than a succession of facile or even misleading reports from the Australian Crime Commission - duly hyped by the Government as the "how-to manual" for "the war on organised crime" - or the discussion paper regarding the national intelligence law proposals that featured a range of impressive-looking statistics that, alas, had absolutely nothing to do with those proposals!

The media release went on to state that -
 “Identity security is a shared responsibility. Only when governments at all levels work together with industry and the community can we effectively tackle the insidious effects of identity misuse. 
“Business needs to protect the personal information that they hold on behalf of the community. They are leaders in promoting good identity security practices within their organisations and in the community,” Ms Roxon said.
The Minister seems to have been careful to avoid reference to the proposed privacy tort. The media release concludes -
Under the National Identity Security Strategy [of which official criticism is noted here], Australia has a number of initiatives underway to strengthen identity security.  
A key initiative is the Document Verification Service, which will allow the private sector to check, in real time, the authenticity of particular proof-of-identity documents. 
“The Document Verification Service offers a practical way for organisations to reduce identity crime and misuse, which affects their reputation and their clients. 
“We announced in the Budget that the service would be made available to financial institutions and telecommunications providers from next year. 
“This initiative will not only address law enforcement and national security risks, but also contribute to the Government’s national priorities of streamlining the digital economy and improving service delivery.”
Can't, it seems, have enough sharing.