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Australian minister proposed the idea of using Digital ID system to de-anonymize social media users

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Employees at the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) have opposed the use of the Australian government’s proposed digital identity scheme to de-anonymize social media accounts. Former minister for employment, workforce, skills, small and family business Robert Stewart proposed the use as a way to stop online trolling, Crikey reported.

Related: Australia to “actively explore” a national digital ID system

The Australian government has been exploring ways to verify the age and identity of citizens online. The DTA has drafted the Trusted Digital Identity Bill and the eSafety Commissioner has been looking into an age verification program to help determine the age of anyone using a device to access the internet. Such proposals have been made by governments around the world and have  ? raised several privacy and free speech concerns.

Leaked minutes and a memo from an October 2021 meeting between the DTA and the Office of the eSafety Commissioner suggest that DTA employees were surprised to hear former minister Stuart Robert suggesting, in a Sky News interview, that the digital identity scheme could be used to identify people behind anonymous social media accounts.

“It’s not a big step to go forward to say: well, hang on, maybe we should be using digital identity for […] areas where identity needs to be proven,” the minister said at the time.

“Has the DTA been requested to take any action relating to these public comments?” a section of the memo from the eSafety Commissioner’s office read.

Minutes from the meeting reveal that DTA employees opposed the use of the digital ID scheme for deanonymizing social media accounts: “Noted they are still trying to keep other ideas/suggestions for the digital ID at bay.”

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