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Wayback Machine

Playing Privacy Poker with Other People’s Chips

Posted on 09 May 2007

"Winston Peters' Super Gold Cards will be able to be embedded with microchips if the law passes as it is currently written. The potential for sinister misuse of the information is huge and underestimated," said ACT Deputy Leader Heather Roy today.

"Super Gold Cards should have been something Senior Citizens and Veteran's could look forward to using; instead they have the potential to pass private information on to unauthorised sources. I have put forward an amendment to omit the use of microchips on these cards and call for the government to refer the use of such technology on to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

"Privacy issues have been completely ignored in the scrutiny of this Bill. Microchips have the ability to operate as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags which can power up and transmit individual’s private details," Mrs Roy said.

"RFIDs were first developed and used for military and espionage purposes in the late 1940's. The information contained in microchips is easy to crack and can be readily misused for unapproved purposes by criminal elements and the authorities.  Both the United States and the EU have recently signalled their concerns around privacy issues, backing away from using RFID technology for human identification until more research and consultation is done.

"Identity theft without people even knowing is a real danger. This is the electronic version of steaming open an envelope," Mrs Roy said.

"Senior Citizens and Veterans should be very wary about receiving their Super Gold Cards if they are embedded with microchips. Cards could already have been read and identities used when new cards arrive in the mailbox.

"The Law Society, in its submission on this Bill, recommended a "general review of the principles governing the use of highly functional technology (such as microchip technology) on governmen-issued cards generally, and that the matter be referred to the office of the Privacy Commissioner."

"This is the right process to follow and the Privacy Commissioner should have been involved from the outset.  Mr Peters and the Labour government have neglected the security of some of their most vulnerable citizens by bypassing basic privacy principles," said Mrs Roy.

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