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Australia To Trial World’s First Cloud-Based Passports

Australia To Trial World’s First Cloud-Based Passports

by Justin OConnellOctober 30, 2015

Australia has moved to introduce passport-less travel in a disruptive move that could cause bureaucracies throughout the world to reconsider business as usual. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop predicts her country’s move will go global.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs reportedly held a hackathon – all encompassing of an X-Factor style audition before the secretary Peter Varghese, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Assistant Minister Steve Ciobo and Chris Vein from the World Bank.

We think it will go global.

– Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Fairfax Media.

Earlier in 2015, diplomatic corps in Canberra looked for a “radical rethink of business as usual” for Australia. Over half of the global staff in more than 100 locations throughout the world submitted, voted or commented on at least one of the 392 pitches to the “DFAT Ideas challenge.” As Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) describes:

The top 10 were presented to the quartet of judges, who favoured the idea of passport-less travel. Under a cloud passport, a traveller’s identity and biometrics data would be stored in a cloud, so passengers would no longer need to carry their passports and risk having them lost or stolen. DFAT says 38,718 passports were registered as lost or stolen in 2014-15, consistent with the 38,689 reported missing the previous year.

Australia and New Zealand, moreover, have entered discussions about trialing such cloud passports together. Ms. Bishop, who unveiled the idea at the InnovationXChange, cautions about strict security requirements needed to store biometrics in the cloud, yet remains optimistic for the possibilities which exist.

InnovationXchange is the minister’s personal initiative. The attitude at the InnovationXchange headquarters is said to be laid back. Ms. Bishop claims the headquarters “would be at home in Silicon Valley.”  As SMH writes:

Staff dress casually and are encourage to shun suits. But the serious results they are already achieving in InnovationXchange’s short life are attracting attention from other departments, which have visited the team of nine staff to observe how they are challenging the cultural norms of bureaucracy.

This is not the first nation-state initiative towards a cloud-based passport and governance system. Estonia’s e-Citizenship program seeks to automate many government bureaucracies.  Here are just some of the services:

  • e-Cabinet
  • e-Law
  • e-Police
  • e-Prescription
  • e-School
  • Electronic Health Record
  • m-Parking

The e-Estonia model of web-based governance is quite radical.

“We hope that in the future the development of the e-Residency platform may be compared to the Apple App Store or Android Google Play,” the project stated.

InnovationXchange is pioneering an initiative inclusive of a US$100million data collection service in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg sits on Innovation Xchange’s reference group. His organization will pledge $85 million with the Australian government contributing $15 million.

“That’s my idea of public-private leverage,” Ms. Bishop said.

Basic births and deaths in 20 countries will be collected and will be available to governments, NGOs, and the media.

Image from Shutterstock.

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  • andrea

    OH YEAH , Nothing wrong with hacking this system at all is there! what a stupid idea for all freedom loving people in this world. tracked by a “cloud” now truly nothing will stop them from tracking you no matter where you physically go..let alone your banking ( e-chip_ your car, your purchases, your travels to what country, DO NOT let these “people” rule you like this. NO to cloud based passports we are not tied to a “passport” we are free people’s!!we don’t a stinking passport . Next will we need permission slips to walk the sidewalk to work?