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NZ’s ID verification program is inaccurate and skipped engagement with Māori — reports

NZ’s ID verification program is inaccurate and skipped engagement with Māori — reports

New Zealand’s biometric Identity Check program is suffering from poor performance and a break in public trust, according to media reports.

A pair of articles published by Radio New Zealand indicates that the program, which includes facial recognition algorithms, is bearing unexpected costs and delays.

Identity Check is to become the way most residents authenticate themselves online, not unlike the perhaps equally troubled Login.gov program in the United States.

The Social Development Ministry is integrating Identity Check as a way of securely distributing government benefits, but, according to RNZ, it would also be used for financial and other private-sector services.

The publisher reports using the nation’s Official Information Act to get previously undisclosed data about the program. According to RNZ, an internal July memo states: “Current success levels are approximately 55 percent” in recent tests.

Improvements since then reportedly have included liveness tests.

In a related problem, the government is shown to have failed to include the nation’s Māori population in developing Identity Check generally and facial recognition specifically, despite assurances to the contrary.

Māori facial tattoos (Mataora) may impact the accuracy of face biometrics.

A September 2022 memo allegedly states: “To date no specific Māori engagement has been conducted regarding Identity Check.” RNZ has reported that the government last week agreed to “an approach for engagement with Māori.”

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