Home Government Tech Policy Australian govts agree on national facial recognition database

Australian govts agree on national facial recognition database

The Australian federal government and the governments of states and territories agreed today to set up a national facial recognition database which will also use drivers' licence photos.

A meeting of the Council of Australian Governments agreed on setting up the national database, along with several other measures deemed to be improvements on the existing security arrangements.

In a statement, the COAG said that agreement had been reached to "share and match identity information, with robust privacy safeguards, to prevent identity crime and promote law enforcement, national security, road safety, community safety and service delivery outcomes".

The face matching services will include face verification service, face identification service, one person one licence service and a facial recognition analysis utility service.

The agreement claims that the identity matching services will help to promote privacy " by strengthening the integrity and security of Australia’s identity infrastructure — the identity management systems of government Agencies that issue Australia’s core identity documents such as driver licences and passports".

The services will be used for preventing identity crime, general law enforcement, national security, protective security, community safety, road safety and identity verification.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the new arrangement was an updating of the existing process to meet current needs.

"This is not accessing information, photo ID information that is not currently available. We are talking about bringing together essentially federal government photo IDs, passports, visas and so forth, together with driver's licences," he said.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.