SITA partners on Australian biometric app for ETA applications from home
The Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) app, developed collaboratively by the Australian Department of Home Affairs, SITA, and the Arq Group, now enables eligible nationalities are able to securely apply for an Australian ETA rapidly via a mobile device to capture passport data and biometrics, as explained in an article on SITA’s website.
An ETA system originally developed in 1996 by SITA led to the eventual establishment of electronic visas. An ETA provides authorization to travel to and enter Australia and uses enhanced technologies to auto-populate data from an applicant’s passport, alongside the traveler’s biometrics.
Using the app, identity information can be directly drawn from the passport optical with character recognition (OCR) used to read the printed machine-readable zone (MRZ) on the inside of a passport and derive a key for access to the passport chip through near field communication (NFC). Passport photos are compared with a selfie photo to confirm identity using complex biometric liveness and anti-spoofing checks against multiple face risk profiles.
In February, the country’s Department of Home Affairs launched a request for 200 portable handheld biometric devices to combine fingerprint and facial biometric collection, enhancing matching capabilities for border force officers.
In terms of data protection, the app has been designed using Privacy by Design approach, says Sujit Sunthankar, director and principal architect for Government Security Solutions at SITA, and personal data is stored in a secure wallet on the user’s device. Users have control of the data too, and are able to delete personal details and previous applications from the app at any time, meanwhile communication between the device and the backend systems is encrypted.
Since the app was deployed in October 2020, thousands of people have been able to travel into the country during the pandemic and has been positively received, even being nominated for the DrivenXDesign Sydney Design Awards 2021.