DFAT to expand use of biometrics

Will launch biometrics panel to source biometrics skills, hardware and applications

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has flagged facial recognition as an ongoing area of development in its increased use of biometric technology.

The department is planning to launch a biometrics panel to source specialised biometric support — especially for facial recognition systems — for the Australian Passport Office (APO) and to help it develop its own in-house biometrics skills.

According to DFAT documents, the APO has used biometric technology, in particular facial recognition, in the passport production process since 2005.

“The passport facial recognition solution has been integrated into the passport production workflow, providing real-time gallery results for every application and the system includes facial images from late 1999,” the documents read.

“Facial recognition was introduced as a way to help combat identity fraud and to help facilitate travel via the use of ePassports and now has over 12 million images enrolled.”

The intention to launch a biometrics panel follows a major expansion in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) use of biometrics to include all onshore protection visa applicants.

Under the expansion, announced in December, biometric data will be lodged for all protection visa applicants' data in Australia as well as those visas processed in “selected” overseas locations. Collected data comprises digital facial images and a 10-digit fingerprint scan.

Earlier this month, Sydney Airport said it had expanded its use of facial recognition technology, launching new kiosks and a ‘SmartGate’ to allow international travellers to more quickly establish their identities and pass through security.

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Tags biometricsDepartment of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)Australian passports office

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