Malcolm Turnbullsays his idea to give all citizens a permanent email address – that could look something like firstname.surname.dateofbirth@australia.org.au and would allow the government, banks and super funds to keep in contact with people forever – could initially be voluntary and aimed at younger, techno-savvy Australians, and would make it easier for the government to communicate with the public, while at the same time slashing the government’s mail-out costs.

“Basically governments have enormous difficulties in communicating,” Turnbull told Crikey this morning. “You talk about the cost of communicating with the public with ministers and they just roll their eyes,” he said, although he wouldn’t offer up an estimate of how much money his scheme could save the government.

How serious is Turnbull about the idea? “I’m not suggesting that it’s going to be government policy next week, or even next year, but it is an interesting idea,” Turnbull said. “I think that the novelty of the concept is that it’s unique and it’s permanent.”

But according to Irene Graham, Executive Director of internet group Electronic Frontiers Australia, a scheme like Turnbull’s could open up sensitive information like bank account info, superannuation and employment stats to anyone that wanted to know.

“Ridiculous, that’s the only word to describe it,” Graham told Crikey. “It just indicates a complete lack of thought about privacy issues.” Graham also told Crikey that the costs the government would save would just be transferred onto the public and that she doesn’t believe that Turnbull has thought any of this through at all.