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Lead: Terror threat drives new WofG biometrics push

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

An expanded national facial recognition system is on the cards according to Minister for Justice and Counter Terrorism Michael Keenan, who told ABC’s RN Breakfast this morning that such a system would help law enforcement entities to more effectively identify terrorists and other criminal suspects.

The expanded national facial recognition database would draw on Australia’s most comprehensive source of facial identification, driver’s licence photos, as well as passport and visa images that are already used by federal law enforcement agencies. The expansion would require states and territories to hand over driver’s licence photos to the Federal Government.

Although federal law enforcement agencies already use facial recognition technology to identify terrorists and criminals, the inclusion of new image datasets from states and territories could lead to data integration work and potential modifications and upgrades to existing biometrics systems and technology used by federal, state and territory governments.

Bigger picture

The push for a national facial recognition system is part of the government’s current campaign for tougher national security measures to combat terrorist threats. The Federal Government’s proposed changes include making pre-charge detention laws consistent across the states and territories, which will mean police can hold yet-to-be-charged suspects for up to 14 days.

A special Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on measures to counter terrorism will be held on Thursday. Turnbull and state and territory leaders will attend.

Intermedium has already documented a growing interest in facial recognition technology to address emerging security challenges. The continued emphasis on counter-terrorism is increasing the need for surveillance, which according to a study from November 2016, will likely drive further public sector interest in the facial recognition technology market.

Facial recognition and biometrics technology continues to infiltrate other security fields, with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection recently signing a $22.5 million contract with Vision-Box to use facial recognition and other biometrics technology to clear passengers through international airport border security, and the Australian Federal Police signposting facial recognition technology as a possible tool to identify “potential terror suspects” on public transport networks during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Project environment

The Federal Government announced $18.5 million for a new National Facial Biometric Matching Capability (NFMBC) in late 2015. The tool aims to enable federal law enforcement and government agencies to share and match identity document photographs based on a one-to-one image-based verification service.

Minister Keenan launched the first phase of Australia’s new facial recognition system – the Face Verification Service (FVS) – in November last year.  The FVS provides the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) access to citizenship and visa images held by DIBP.

The National Organised Crime Response Plan 2015-18 first recommended the national facial recognition initiative in early 2015, pointing out the need for improved systems and ICT linkage between Commonwealth, state and, territory law enforcement agencies to tackle firearms, cybercrime, and financial crime.

Category: IT Services, Software

Source: ABC’s RN Breakfast

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  • Software
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  • Border Security
  • Defence
  • Justice