Impact Of Technology In Australians' Lives

1835 words - 7 pages

From invitro fertilisation to autopsy, people’s lives in Australia are potentially subject to scrutiny. The extent to which details of a particular individual’s existence are on show depends not just on the person’s own decisions but also on the decisions of related others, private firms and the state as well as inadvertent access by technology. This essay examines several points in people’s lives where they are most likely to encounter the public gaze, either now or into the future. Specifically, these junctures are the Census, The 100 point ID system and the lens of telepanoramic digital photography.

Every five years, the Census provides a snapshot of Australian households. The data collected forms the basis of public planning. (How to complete your Census form 2006, p.2) On the night of August the 8th 2006, Australian households undertook the latest census. The form could be completed in either hard copy or online. Of particular interest was Question 60, Time capsule, which invited households to have a copy of their responses to the Census identified by their names in microfilm format for future reference. This information will be held in secure storage by the National Archives of Australia for 99 years when it will be made available to ‘genealogists …, historians, academics, social analysts, journalists, and fiction and non-fiction writers’. This option was first made available at the previous Census held in 2001 (How to complete your Census form 2006, p.17).

This opportunity was welcomed by genealogists, who have long envied their British counterparts historic and full access to census data from 1841 onwards. Indeed, the 1901 census has recently been made available (Census Online 2006). In the Australian case however, the lack of access to the whole of Census for 2001 and 2006 has been problematic. As only 52% of those households undertaking the 2001 Australian Census signed on to the Time capsule option (How to complete your Census form 2006, p.17), many families might in future be disappointed by what they may perceive as the lack of forethought by their ancestors. On the other hand, there are concerns by genealogists who have sites on the Internet where the maiden names of mothers, often used as credit card passwords, are displayed for all and sundry to see. Among the passing traffic are identity thieves who take advantage of the situation (Privacy on the Internet: Effect on genealogy n.d.). Identity theft is where a third party profits from illegally collecting your information (Hogan 2005, p.174). Appearing safe, the 99-year period might instead by 2100 and 2105, with advances in medicine and information technology, prove inadequate protection for someone related to a babe in arms in 2001 or 2006. That is, although the Privacy Act does not apply to personal information about deceased individuals (The Office of the Privacy Commission 2006), the privacy of living descendants might be infringed by genealogical information about them....

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