Defence may share biometric data with US

Defence may share biometric data with US

Summary: The Department of Defence (DoD) is preparing to run a trial of a new biometrics database designed to hold and compare biometric information that's collected by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel in the field, and which could also be shared with US forces.

SHARE:

The Department of Defence (DoD) is preparing to run a trial of a new biometrics database designed to hold and compare biometric information that's collected by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel in the field, and which could also be shared with US forces.

US paratroopers using a hand-held iris scanner similar to the ones used by the ADF.
(Iris scan image by The US Army, CC BY 2.0)

Such databases are already in use in the US, and are known as Automated Biometrics Information Systems (ABIS). The DoD has invited industry to tender for the six-month trial of an Australian counterpart — an AS-ABIS. The system will interface with the US database and other national partner databases, and will include the ability to detect persons of interest who are on watch lists.

The proposed AS-ABIS will interface with the US version using the already developed US DoD Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification (PDF). This will allow data from both databases to be swapped and compared, either automatically or manually.

Collection of biometric data is made possible through existing devices already in use by the ADF. It is currently fielding Cross Match's SEEK (Secure Electronic Enrolment Kit) II collection device, which allows ADF personnel to scan irises, faces and fingerprints. US forces already use similar technology to interface with their database. Combining these devices with the proposed AS-ABIS will allow personnel to identify whether a person is of particular interest in near-real time, and allow them to upload known details about the person to AS-ABIS, potentially to be shared with US forces.

The DoD has specified that the database should be able to handle 500 transactions per day, and have a capacity of 365,000 records initially, but it has also specified that the successful tender should demonstrate that the system can be scaled up to 5000 transactions per day, and have a capacity of 3.65 million records.

At a minimum, the system aims to support fingerprints, face recognition, iris images and palm images, but it must have support for any additional biometric features that may become available.

The DoD is aiming to sign contracts on 7 May this year, after which a small team of Canberra-based analysts will run the trial for at least six months using real data collected by ADF personnel.

Topics: Security, Government, Government AU, Health, Privacy

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

1 comment
Log in or register to join the discussion
    • You seriously believe that? This won't stop terrorism at all, if anything it makes it easier.

      What if terrorist groups use the same technology to track foreign soldiers, informants, and other innocents? Mr Taliban scans you and determines you're an off duty military member or a citizen of a target nation, time to kidnap you.
      Scott W-ef9ad