Australians accepting of biometric identification despite privacy concerns

Australians accepting of biometric identification despite privacy concerns

More than 80 percent of Australians are “extremely concerned” about privacy threats associated with biometric technology for identity verification, but they would still be willing to accept the technology in certain situations, says a recent report by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), writes ZDNet.

A top concern for 81 percent is that biometrics would become mandatory in situations where they wouldn’t normally consent to their use, while 91 percent are worried about the use of biometrics for government surveillance.

Should a data breach occur, some 86 percent are concerned they wouldn’t know how to approach the data leak, while costs, biometric data and money loss, as well as fraudsters using the stolen data to impersonate them were also named among concerns. Respondents who were at some point victims of identity crime were more aware of risks and more concerned about biometric data leaks than respondents who hadn’t gone through a similar situation.

Despite an apparent concern for privacy, more than 70 percent of Australians would use voice recognition, 84.7 percent would use fingerprints, 75.6 percent are ok with facial recognition and 68.6 percent would accept iris recognition technology. However, 94.7 percent would still use passwords and 81.6 percent written signatures.

In the midst of controversy surrounding facial recognition and its use in law enforcement, 89 percent of respondents agree with facial recognition deployment in government operations specifically when terrorist attacks are at stake, in identifying criminal suspects (88 percent), airport security processing (85.7 percent), identifying persons of interest in public places (81 percent), and applying for and using identity documents such as a passport or driver license (84 percent).

Respondents were mostly against facial recognition use to match images on social media (58 percent), for applying for a mobile phone (58 percent) or to get into a car (62 percent).

The report was conducted under the government’s National Identity Security Strategy and is based on feedback from 9,911 respondents interviewed between December 2019 and January 2019.

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has been pushing for a large-scale deployment across the country of its Face Verification Service and Document Verification Service, face-matching system to verify age for Australians interested in online pornography, among other identity-matching services.

The goal is to build an identity information-sharing platform for government use. However, the plan hit a setback in October last year when the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) requested the government redraft the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 to include adequate privacy safeguards.

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