Biometrics Institute warns Australian government about collecting biometrics from children

April 23, 2015 - 

The Biometrics Institute has issued a warning to the Australian government that they must take extra precaution when using children’s biometrics for border protection and other purposes.

The warning is a response to the Australian government’s announcement last month that it would introduce new legislation that would allow authorities to collect biometric data from children.

The independent organization submitted evidence before last week’s Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee hearings in Sydney, Australia, stating that the government needs to understand that there are significant technical and privacy issues regarding the use of biometrics with young people.

“The Institute understands the need to ensure that those young people entering Australia as refugees or immigrants are treated with respect for their privacy and human rights,” said Terry Aulich, head of the privacy expert group at the Biometrics Institute. “Some may have no papers and therefore need a unique identity such as that provided by biometrics like fingerprints, facial scans or iris scans.”

Despite these concerns, Aulich agreed with the Chairman Senator Ian MacDonald that biometrics were a crucial tool that could be used to fight terrorism and fraud.

“The latest Migration Bill proposed by the government needs to take into account the fact that research showed that biometrics work less accurately on young people whose bodies are not fully developed,” said Biometrics Institute CEO Isabelle Moeller. “This could lead to false accepts or rejects and cause major problems where border control authorities have an unjustified confidence in the 100% accuracy of biometric enrolments or scanning.”

Aulich recommended that the Senate Committee closely analyze the International Standardization Organization’s draft document ISO/IEC PDTR 30110.2 addressing biometrics and children, along with other key materials related to the use of biometrics for children.

These resources would help the government ensure that their legislation factored in the latest technology views about children and biometrics as well as international privacy principles, many of which can be found in the Biometrics Institute’s privacy Guidelines.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.