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Australia awards Fujitsu $26M contract for ID matching, considers face biometrics database

Australia awards Fujitsu $26M contract for ID matching, considers face biometrics database

The Australian Department of Home Affairs has awarded Fujitsu Australia an AU$37.6 million (roughly US$26.2 million) contract to handle the technology behind its Identity Matching Services (IDMS) infrastructure.

The three-year contract is only for managed services to maintain the current systems and does not add any new features to the IDMS, according to InnovationAus. The system is used in the issuance of driver’s licenses and passports.

Instead, the agreement will cover core IDMS aspects, as well as its Document Verification Service (DVS) and Face Matching Service. These systems were managed until now by NTT under a ten-year AU$27.2 million (US$19 million) deal and a seven-year AU$66.6 million (US$46.5 million) contract, respectively.

InnovationAus is also reporting that Home Affairs is considering bringing back legislation to add a face biometrics database to the IDMS, almost four years after a similar proposal was refused by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).

At the time, the proposal, which suggested the redrafting of the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 and substantially amended a supporting bill for automating passport data sharing, was blocked because of biometric surveillance-related concerns.

In particular, the proposed legislation would have expanded the IDMS reach to include several new services to biometrically identify, recognize and face images.

Fast forward to today, InnovationAus is suggesting that while Home Affairs has dropped the bill, it has still been looking at the creation of legislation in support of a national facial recognition database.

Home Affairs reportedly confirmed that amendments to the proposed legislation and addressing the PJCIS recommendations were brought forward in 2020.

However, a spokesperson for the PJCIS told InnovationAus this week that the inquiry has followed those plans, which now rest in the hands of Home Affairs minister Clare O’Neil and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus.

The IDMS updates come weeks after University of Sydney Law School professor Kimberlee Weatherall discussed how outdated privacy laws are reportedly exposing Australian residents to improper collection and use of biometrics.

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