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Protests Erupt Across Australia Against Impending National Digital ID, Fears of Social Credit System Arise

Thousands of Australians took to the streets in major cities to voice their concerns about the impending national digital ID system. The fear of a social credit system similar to that in Beijing was a prevalent theme during the rallies held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane on May 5. The protests were a response to the passage of the Digital ID Bill in the Australian Senate in late March.

Supporters of the bill argue that it will provide a convenient way for citizens to verify their identity with both government agencies and businesses. The program will work alongside the existing MyGov platform, which already links to various government services. However, opponents of the bill, including Libertarian Party MP John Ruddick, believe that it won’t remain voluntary for long.

Ruddick warns that the national digital ID could pave the way for a Beijing-style social credit system. He argues that while initially the system may seem convenient, a future crisis could lead to emergency powers being used to enforce a social credit system. This scenario raises concerns about privacy and individual freedoms.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts also expressed fears of a social credit system and highlighted how the digital ID bill is interconnected with other programs and laws. He pointed to the identification verification bill, misinformation bill, potential digital currency by the Reserve Bank, and ongoing push for cashless transactions by banks. Roberts sees this as a framework for complete control over every citizen, despite claims that it is voluntary.

Roberts further expressed concerns regarding data aggregation and potential misuse. He believes that the government could sell aggregated data and that there would be no privacy whatsoever. The digital ID would allow federal public servants access to extensive personal information and enable them to withhold services if individuals don’t comply. Roberts also warns of future amendments that could link government data with private sector data, creating a comprehensive digital profile of each citizen.

Liberal Senator Alex Antic raised an issue related to opening bank accounts. While the legislation states that creating and using a digital ID is voluntary, banks are not breaking the law if they require a digital identity for online services. Antic emphasized that as online banking becomes more prevalent, physical branches and ATMs may decrease, making it harder for individuals who prefer not to use digital ID.

An analysis by The Epoch Times of the government’s explanatory memorandum reveals that exemptions to the voluntary nature of the legislation could be granted for small businesses as defined in the Privacy Act and in emergencies. These exemptions raise concerns about potential loopholes and misuse of the system.

Labor’s Finance Minister, Katy Gallagher, reassured citizens that the digital ID system is safe and voluntary. She believes that it will enhance online identity verification and reduce the risk of identity theft. Amendments passed in the Senate will allow businesses to sign up for the digital ID system within two years.

Overall, the protests against Australia’s national digital ID system highlight concerns about privacy, potential abuse of power, and the possibility of a social credit system. Critics argue that while the system may initially seem convenient, it could have far-reaching consequences for individual freedoms and privacy rights. The debate surrounding the legislation is likely to continue as it moves through the House of Representatives.

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