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Submission to the 2005 Senate inquiry

Lockstep made a detailed submission to the 2005 Senate inquiry into the Privacy Act, focussing on smartcards and biometrics.

Privacy threats in cyberspace are most often imagined by the public to involve "Big Brother" scenarios, like the tracking by governments of smartcard usage, and surreptitious linking of large and inscrutable databases. Yet Lockstep submits that privacy is more often invaded today by commercial and private interests exploiting weaknesses in cyber security. Examples include phishing, counterfeit websites, and identity theft. Our top priority in safeguarding privacy must be to ensure adequate levels of security around sensitive electronic services.

Lockstep's considered view, based on independent research and analysis, is that greater use of smartcards is urgently required to protect the privacy of Australians.

Turning to biometrics, privacy problems with these still immature technologies are, for the foreseeable future, far more likely to arise from their limitations than from their purported powers. The simple truth is that biometrics are not yet reliable enough for large scale rollout. And they fundamentally can never be foolproof. In this submission, we hope to expose some of the inescapable limitations of biometrics, and to thus help set more realistic expectations amongst law and policy makers as to their real abilities.