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New Zealand renews airport facial biometrics contract with NEC and partner for $20M

New Zealand renews airport facial biometrics contract with NEC and partner for $20M

New Zealand has renewed a contract for facial recognition services to check biometric passport photos with NEC and partner DXC Technology, Radio New Zealand reports.

The contract with the Department of Internal Affairs for the use of NeoFace technology to identify potential identity fraud lasts through 2029, and comes with an NZ $20 million (US$13.2 million) price tag.

A note on the procurement from the government indicates the contract is to deliver NeoFace “as-a-service,” and includes two three-year renewal options.

The Radio New Zealand article notes the controversy swirling around facial recognition use in the U.S. and UK, and that NEC says it has a “particularly close relationship” with police in New Zealand, including supplying solutions for fingerprint and palm print biometrics. Dataworks Plus, which uses an NEC algorithm, has previously been reported as the facial recognition supplier for police in the country.

NEC tells RNZ that its facial recognition technology is not used for surveillance in New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs General Manager of Operations Russell Burnard says the technology’s use was publicized when it was adopted ten years ago, and the privacy commissioner has been consulted over the decade. Data used in the system is not shared with any third party, according to Burnard.

The company says it has a thousand facial recognition systems operating in 70 countries.

NEC Corporation has announced revenues of 587.7 billion yen ($5.56 billion) for the quarter ending June 30, 2020, a 10.1 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago, due to the economic conditions imposed by COVID-19.

The company reports a net loss of 6.4 billion yen ($60.5 million), after recording a net profit of 2.6 billion yen ($24.6 million) in the same period of 2019. Adjusted operating profit, likewise, fell to a 5.8 billion-yen ($54.9 million) loss from 7.6 billion yen ($71.9 million) in the black a year earlier.

For the full fiscal year, ending March 31, 2021, NEC issued guidance of just over 3 trillion yen ($28.7 billion) in revenue, a 2.1 percent decrease from fiscal 2019.

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