A new manifesto for smartcards as national information infrastructure

Pre-print edition of a peer-reviewed paper presented to the 5th Homeland Security Summit, Canberra, 2006.

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The smartcard debate in Australia is beset by misconceptions and tunnel vision. Smartcards are best known as the ideal solution to plastic card fraud, but they also offer unique remedies to the scourges of phishing, pharming, web fraud and spam. Governments’ electronic service delivery ambitions include electronic health records, electronic passports and driver licences, e-voting and online census collection. These programmes carry the most acute needs for privacy and security. If Australians using the Internet fear eavesdropping and identity takeover, then the nation should be introducing properly engineered smartcards as soon as possible and taking a uniform approach to all online identity.


In Australia the two largest and most prominent smartcard proposals are the New Queensland Driver Licence (NQDL) and the proposed new Department of Human Services Access Card. Both of these from time to time have been cautiously touted as providing keys to online services, but neither project has yet to commit itself to supporting remote authentication. If we had a broader shared vision of smartcards as infrastructure, then the NQDL and the Access Card could both be viewed as important resources for the whole community, becoming over time the preferred means for individuals to interact with government online. Within the timelines for the rollout of both of these programmes (that is, 2008 onwards) the new smartcard-aware Windows Vista operating system will penetrate the market, and it seems inevitable that smartcard support will become commonplace at the application level and in the standard commercial PC build. This means potential impediments to the widespread use of smartcards at home will be steadily falling, and the widespread use of smartcards for remote access will become practicable.

Lockstep Smartcards as Infrastructure (5th Homeland Security Summit) 2006 Lockstep RNSA Safeguarding Australia Sep06 (1 2) HANDOUTS