Australian state ICs take aim at facial recognition laws
28 March 2018 12:23 GMT

Privacy bodies in Queensland and Victoria have questioned proposed laws underpinning the exchange of information through the federal government’s new facial biometrics matching scheme.

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner and Queensland’s Office of the Information Commissioner raised the concerns to the parliamentary committee reviewing the government’s Identity-matching Services Bill and the Australian Passports Amendment (Identity Matching Services) Bill.

The bills, which were introduced to parliament last month, will formalise an agreement signed between federal, state and territory leaders last October to establish a capabilityfor law enforcement agencies to share and access identity information in real time.

Although supporting the use of identity-matching services (IMS) "in principle", both privacy bodies have called for greater prescription within the draft legislation - and less reliance on the agreement - to address governance and privacy concerns.

The Victorian information commissioner noted potential issues around “the rigour of the governance processes currently proposed, given that risk will largely be managed via agreements between the parties - such as through the participation agreement - rather than through the legislation itself”.

“We question the enforceability of these arrangements,” the office states.

It said governance arrangements for identity-matching services were modelled on the regime in place for the document verification service (DVS), but that there was a “substantial difference” in the kind of services offered.

“For that reason alone, my office suggests a more robust set of checks and balances is necessary on the use of the IMS, to protect against misuse or scope creep in the application of the service,” its submission states.

The OVIC said it also holds concerns around extending identity-matching services to the private sector and local government because of “the variation in the quality of governance and security that can be expected”.