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Western Australia joins national facial biometrics matching database



The government of Western Australia has introduced a biometric data sharing law to allow the expansion of the country’s national facial biometrics database with information from the driver’s licenses of state residents, writes IT News.

The “Transport Legislation Amendment (Identity Matching Services) Bill 2020” was pushed forward by WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti last week. Data that will be shared includes photos, signatures, photo cards and other details included in the driver’s licenses, to be used by law enforcement.

Managed by the Department of Home Affairs, states and territories agreed to stand up the National Driver License Facial Recognition Solution (NDLFRS) in October 2017 but it is not yet in working order. In September 2019, the state of Victoria announced it would start uploading driver’s license photographs to the national database. South Australia and Tasmania have also shared their details to the database. All states are expected to upload their information by September 2021. For now, NDLFRS includes 6 million licenses.

The database will collect “biometric templates created from facial images provided by states and territories centrally,” but states will not lose control over the information provided.

According to Saffioti, facial recognition technology will be used, among other purposes, to rapidly identify victims of natural disasters, reduce crime and identity theft.

“Department of Transport customer information will be subject to strong safeguards through legally binding identity matching services documents called participation agreements, and participation access arrangements,” Saffioti said in a statement.

“These will be signed by senior representatives of other states and territories before access is granted to Department of Transport customer information.”

Once all states are on board by the end of 2021, NDLFRS will be ready for use.

The government’s suggested laws for federal facial biometrics matching system have been postponed due to privacy and transparency concerns.

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