Parliament to scrutinise facial recognition bills

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Parliament to scrutinise facial recognition bills

Committee commences review.

Proposed laws underpinning the exchange of information through the federal government’s new facial biometrics matching scheme will be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee.

The joint committee on intelligence and security will examine both the Identity-matching Services Bill and the Australian Passports Amendment (Identity-Matching Services) Bill.

“It is vital that a nationally consistent approach to data sharing is put in place so that law enforcement and national security agencies can use facial images to identify individuals in circumstances where they or others may be under threat,” committee chair Andrew Hastie said in announcing the review.

The bills were introduced to parliament last month. They formalise an agreement signed last October between federal, state and territory leaders to establish a capability for law enforcement agencies to share and access identity information in real time [pdf].

The Identity-matching Services Bill will allow authorised agencies “to rapidly share and match facial images drawn from existing databases in order to identify unknown persons, and detect people using multiple fraudulent identities”.

Agencies will do this through the government’s existing facial verification service (FVS) and the nascent facial identification service (FIS).

The bill will also authorise the Department of Home Affairs to “to collect, use and disclose identification information through the interoperability hub and NDLFRS [national drivers licence facial recognition solution] for identity and community protection activities and other purposes”.

The Australian Passports Amendment (Identity-Matching Services) Bill will make Australian travel documents available to the identity matching service.

The referral comes just a day after laws enabling Queensland’s participation in the national facial biometrics matching scheme passed through the state’s parliament. It had given the public just five days to raise issue with the legislation.

The committee is taking submissions on the two bills until March 21 and will report by mid-May.

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