Why do people get so worked up over ID numbers?
I used to work in this pub in Wollongong where come Census time some of the regulars would scarper for the hills. I also remember a bus stop near where I grew up bearing the graffiti: “NO AUSTRALIA CARD” for most of the mid 80s, so I get there are people who are a little skeptical (read paranoid) about the Government knowing their business.
But I just heard the Punch’s Mark Kenny at the Press Club ask Julia Gillard about the “Orwellian” nature of the proposed new ID number for Australian school students Phil Coorey flagged in the Herald this morning.
The Opposition quickly jumped on the plan, with Tony Abbott today saying: I think that people have names and I think that it ought to be possible to identify people’s performance based on their names, based on who they are.”
Off the top of my head this is a list of the numbers I’ve had during my life: HSC exam number, Tax File Number, university student number, driver license number, Medicare number, Private Health Insurance number, various patient numbers during treatment, many employee numbers, bank account numbers, booking numbers, frequent flyer numbers, car registration numbers, account numbers for facilities… oh I’m tired now.
None of these numbers have made me feel less than a person, under Tony Abbott’s definition. Nor have they made me feel like I was living in a nightmare out of the pages of a George Orwell novel.
Gillard says the numbers will be used to track progress of students to provide better data for the funding of schools. According to Phil Coorey: “A senior source said strict privacy provisions would restrict its use to those who needed the information, such as parents. Protections would be built in to stop third parties being able to identify students.”
With the current generation of school students giving their privacy away for free on Facebook, a unique student number would be the least of a parent’s worries I would have thought.
Maybe I’m not paranoid enough.
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