Wednesday, 07 February 2018 17:23

Facial recognition bill introduced into parliament Featured

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Legislation has been introduced into parliament to set up a national facial recognition database, as agreed upon by the Coalition Government and the states in October last year.

The Identity-matching Services Bill 2018 was introduced on Wednesday morning by Peter Dutton, in his new portfolio of home affairs minister.

According to the draft bill, there will be five ways of identifying people:

  • face identification service which is used to compare an individual against an existing image in the database; this is to be used by law enforcement, intelligence and anti-corruption agencies;
  • face verification service which is usable by government and businesses and is to be used for comparing an image on a submitted document against one that is the database;
  • one person one licence service which allows states and territories to verify that an Australian citizen does not hold multiple driving licences or IDs;
  • identity data sharing service which is aimed at allowing biometric data to be shared between the federal government and the states through an electronic hub which is to be under the control of the Home Affairs ministry; and
  • facial recognition analysis utility service which will allow the testing of biometric data quality on images provided by the various governments.

The database will be known as the National Driver Licence Facial Recognition Solution and will be under the control of the Home Affairs department.

Dutton will be required to present a report to parliament each year about the operation of the law, which the secretary of his department is required to provide within six months of the end of the financial year. The tabling of the report will have to be within 15 sitting days of parliament after Dutton receives the report.

But all uses of the bill will not have to be reported, with the bill saying, "The minister must report to parliament annually on the use of most of the identity-matching services."

In the introduction to the bill, it says: "Generally, identity-matching services involve requests for electronic comparison of identification information about an individual to identify the individual, verify the individual’s identity, check whether the individual has more than one state or
territory government identification document of a particular kind, or manage identification information about the individual in the NDLFRS."

Any additional rules to be added in the law will have to be made by Dutton after consulting the human rights commissioner and the information commissioner.

If any functions of the bodies that are authorised to use the face identification service are outsourced to another body, then Dutton can authorise that body to have access to the data for this service.

The bill has gone through its first reading and a second reading has been moved.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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