Interpol calls on APAC authorities to make greater use of biometrics to identify terrorists

May 27, 2015 - 

Interpol has called on Asia Pacific authorities to more effectively use biometrics in an effort to identify members of dangerous terrorist organizations such as ISIS, according to a report by Computerworld.

In a presentation delivered at the Biometrics Institute Asia Pacific conference in Sydney, Interpol operational police support directorate director Michael O’Connell said Interpol has seen an “increase in the number of Asian foreign fighters” from Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore “joining the conflict in Syria and Iraq”.

Interpol maintains an AFIS fingerprint system storing over 210,000 crime records, with only three percent of the records stemming from the APAC region, said O’Connell.

The agency is currently developing a new facial recognition database that stores 250,000 profiles for use in tracing and tracking capabilities.

“Europe provides 26 more times fingerprint data than the APAC region and 623 times more DNA data,” said O’Connell. “Yet, we know the [APAC] region has the technology and does make use of it at national levels.”

O’Connell said while the APAC region is “behind the curve” in their use of these biometric capabilities, APAC authorities are able to partner with Interpol’s global complex for innovation in Singapore to effectively connect to its biometric capabilities.

Meanwhile, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) said that 90 percent of air passengers will be screened using facial biometrics by 2020, according to a separate Computerworld report.

The Smartgate system currently only screens 35 percent of passengers, said ACBPS major capability division first assistant secretary Randall Brugeaud at the Biometrics Institute Asia Pacific. There are currently 24 countries participating in the agency’s offshore biometrics program.

“We have a number of pressures at the border with significant increases in international trade and travel,” said Brugeaud. “For us to manage the new demands, we need to do something different.”

ACBPS predicts that that there will be 50 million border crossings in 2020 — a considerable increase from the 30 million border crossings that occurred in 2012.

In May, ACBPS began installing the first of its next generation Smartgates at Sydney airport’s international departure in an initiative that will see a total of 92 Vision-Box machines installed in the departure terminals of Australia’s eight international airports.

Users will be able to use the Smartgates to scan their passport and continue to their flight instead of having an immigration official process the documents.

Previously reported, the Australian government has allocated a total of AU$450 million to increase national security to provide different agencies with more funding, including AU$296 million toward boosting the technological capabilities of the nation’s intelligence-gathering agencies.

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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.