Biometric trials point to passport fraud

Biometric technology has been used in Australia to find out if individuals are fraudulently holding multiple passports - and it is getting results
Written by Andrew Colley, Contributor

The Australian federal government is poised to crack down hard on identity fraud amid indications that trials of biometric technology are already unveiling instances of individuals illegally securing multiple passports.

Sources close to the trial indicated that testing of the biometric technology against Passport Australia's existing database of passport information has yielded instances whereby an individual's unique facial biometric has been identified as occurring in more than one stored passport.

The sources said this indicated individuals may have applied for and been issued multiple passports fraudulently.

However, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to confirm that such instances had occurred. "We have undertaken limited testing using facial biometric recognition technology some issues did arise during the tests and these have been addressed and appropriate action taken where necessary," a DFAT spokesperson said.

When asked what the issues were and what additional action the department was compelled to take, the spokesperson refused to elaborate.

The facial biometric -- a machine-readable algorithm generated from an individual's facial features -- is as unique as a fingerprint. Theoretically, a biometric algorithm generated from photos held in Passport Australia's database should only match a passport once.

Sources close to the trial indicated that Passport Australia was exploring the technology as searching through photographs manually to find instances of fraud was too human resource intensive.

They indicated trials of the technology had revealed it was 95 percent accurate.

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