Parts of audit on cancelled Australian NEC biometrics contract could be redacted

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has warned the country’s attorney general that it may apply to have parts of an audit into a cancelled biometric project suppressed if it contains sensitive information, The Guardian reports.

A AUD $46.8 million (roughly US$34.9 million) contract with NEC to deliver Biometric Identification Services was awarded by ACIC predecessor CrimTrac in 2016, and cancelled by the ACIC in June of this year after a reported cost blow-out to more than $100 million ($76.1 million). The contract had been intended to add palm prints, foot prints, and facial images to the national biometric database.

Section 37 of Australia’s auditor-general’s act allows for audit reports to be redacted to protect national security. Section 37 was used for the first time in June, when an audit severely criticized the cost of a contract for combat vehicles with Thales.

“I reiterate, this is not a matter of obstructionism – it is just us exercising our responsibilities so far as the protection of our data is concerned,” ACIC COO Paul Williams wrote to the auditor in internal communications seen by the Guardian.

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