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‘It’s a long bow’: Social media ID push dubbed ineffective, a privacy risk

A proposal to force Australians to present 100 points of identification in order to get a social media account faces opposition as academics say it won’t halt online abuse as intended and could even strengthen the hand of Facebook and Twitter.

The measure is one of 88 recommendations made in a federal parliamentary committee report tabled this week that proposes a range of strategies to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence.

A parliamentary report is proposing identification requirements for opening and maintaining a social media account.

A parliamentary report is proposing identification requirements for opening and maintaining a social media account.Credit:Istock

The cross-party report – chaired by Queensland LNP MP Andrew Wallace – called for users to be required to present 100 points of identification – which could include a driver’s licence, birth certificate, Medicare card, or passport – in order to open or maintain an existing social media account with companies such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

The suggestion is that the measure would prevent people from using anonymous accounts to abuse and harass others. However, experts are not so sure.

Swinburne University senior lecturer in digital media Belinda Barnet said it was a poor solution that assumed people would simply cease being abusive if they presented identification.

“It’s a long bow to draw that if we give our passport to Facebook then suddenly people will not be abusive,” she said.

“There’s no research to support that assumption”.

Dr Barnet was also fearful of the potential privacy ramifications, and that technology giants were first and foremost a business based on collecting people’s data.

“These platforms are the world’s largest aggregators of data. They use that data for their own business purposes, not for our benefit,” she said.

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