RCOA express concerns about Australian biometrics bill

April 22, 2015 - 

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), the national organization for refugees, asylum seekers and the organisations and individuals who work with them, has submitted its recommendations to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Biometrics Integrity) Bill 2015.

The move comes a few weeks after the bill’s introduction, which will effectively allow Australian authorities to collect biometric data from children as well as enable airport border control personnel to perform mobile fingerprint checks on individuals suspected of being foreign fighters with fake passports.

The RCOA’s recommendations detail its general concerns regarding the potential implications of the collection of biometric data for refugee and humanitarian entrants and several specific concerns regarding the bill under review.

The first recommendation is to amend the bill to introduce a “robust regulatory framework” for the collection and use of biometric data, including all related mechanisms for independent oversight.

The second recommendation is to establish regulations to ensure that biometric systems are subject to “rigorous and consistent testing” to ensure their accuracy.

The third recommendation is that the bill be amended to remove the minister’s power to bypass the safeguards relating to the collection of biometric data outlined in sections 258E and 258F of the Migration Act 1958.

The fourth and final recommendation is that all provisions relating to the collection of biometric data from minors and incapable persons be removed from the bill.

Previously reported, the Law Council of Australia recommended last week that a new bill that will allow the immigration department to collect biometric data not be passed before it undergoes a proper assessment by the privacy commissioner regarding its impact.

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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.