The Western Australian (WA) government has introduced legislation that will allow it to begin sharing citizen’s driver’s license information with the National Driver Licence Facial Recognition Solution (NDLFRS), Australia’s national facial biometrics matching database.
As ITNews reports, WA transport minister Rita Saffioti introduced Transport Legislation Amendment (Identity Matching Services) Bill 2020, which will allow photos, signatures, and other information to be shared with the NDLFRS database.
The NDLFRS system was established by state and territory leaders in October of 2017 and is managed by the Department of Home Affairs. Though it is not yet operational, the aim is for law enforcement agencies to use it to share and access identity information in real time.
According to Saffioti, the database will store “biometric templates created from facial images provided by states and territories centrally,” though she points out that each individual state will retain control over its data.
Saffioti also said that, along with being a “powerful investigative tool” for law enforcement, the bill would allow citizens to consent to having their identities “quickly and easily” verified in the case of natural disasters like the recent wildfires that devastated Australia.
She was careful to stress, however, that while the bill will represent an expansion of the existing disclosure provisions for facial biometric images and related personal information, there would also be strict conditions on when and with whom this information could be shared.
“Department of Transport customer information will be subject to strong safeguards through legally binding identity matching services documents called participation agreements, and participation access arrangements,” said Saffioti. “These will be signed by senior representatives of other states and territories before access is granted to Department of Transport customer information.”
WA joins Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania in the list of states that have already agreed to share their driver’s license data with the NDLFRS — with more than 6 million licenses being shared between them — and other states and territories are expected to join between now and September 2021, by which time the NDLFRS is expected to be close to fully operational.
March 27, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis