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Big brother to combat terrorism.

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Senator Len Harris One Nation Queensland

Big brother to combat terrorism 20 May 2004

Queensland Senator Len Harris says the $9.7 million allocation for biometric technology in this year's federal budget has more to do with control of the Australian population than protecting citizens from terrorism.

"Under this year's budget allocation, DIMIA has been allocated $4.4 million to develop a capacity to store and use digital biometric images to better identify its clients each time they deal with the Department."

"Who do these people think they are? This facial recognition program, once fully developed, would enable DIMIA to identify you WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE, every time you walk into a DIMIA office or up to a service counter!"

"This same notorious technology is being used in the United States. In 2002, face-recognition software surreptitiously scanned everyone passing through turnstiles in Florida, for the Super Bowl XXXV. The biometric technology flashed probable matches with the mug shots of known criminals on the screens of a police control room."

"One Nation does not believe that the public understands or accepts that they could be subjected to a computerised scan upon dealing face-to-face with DIMIA. It is preposterous and un-Australian and will not be accepted by us."

Biometric technology is inherently fraught with dangers and is a threat to open, free and democratic societies. Leading optometrist have concerns, medical records prove that the iris does alter due to illness and traumatic events.

"One of the most frightening and repugnant aspects of biometrics is the ability of this technology to racially profile people. Biometrics also serve to enhance privileges of the already privileged, for example, express border crossings for businesspeople. The technology can also act as an enforcement measure against the least privileged such as welfare recipients, concession card holders, public health patients and legitimate asylum seekers."

Senator Harris says biometric technology used to combat terrorism and identity fraud at Australia's borders is a likely entrée for a na t i o n a l i d e n t i t y c a r d . " T h e U K h a s r e c e n t l y introduced legislation for an identity card and it stems from several government programs there including research into a biometric passport for UK citizens."

Senator Harris's warning on biometrics comes shortly after global human rights group, Privacy International released its report exploring the relationship between national identity cards and the prevention of terrorism.

The Privacy International report says:

• There is no evidence between identity cards and successful anti terrorism measures.

• The link between anti terrorism and identity cards is intuitive.

• Of the 25 countries that have been most adversely affected by terrorism since 1986, eighty per cent have national identity cards, one third of which incorporate biometrics. This research was unable to uncover any instance where the presence of an identity card system in those countries was seen as a significant deterrent to terrorist activity.

• Almost two thirds of known terrorists operate under their true identity. The remainder use a variety of techniques to forge or impersonate identities. It is possible that the existence of a high integrity identity card would provide a measure of improved legitimacy for these people.

"Biometric technology is being implemented around the world as a means to manage borders and combat identity fraud. Australia has been testing biometric passports and the smart-gate facial recognition system for several years."

"The Smart- Gate technology, enables face scans to be stored on databases around the world and linked and swapped with other countries that have the same technology. The privacy ramifications are enormous."

Senator Harris has written to the Federal Privacy Commissioner to clarify whether the government consulted with the national privacy watchdog over the expansion biometric research and development.

"The new budget funding raises serious questions, in terms of extra resourcing that the Privacy Commission will require in order to monitor future developments. The office of the Privacy Commissioner was not even formally consulted in 2002, when the government announced it would spend $3 million on research and development aimed at adding a biometric identifier to Australian passports."

Senator Harris says the public have never been asked for their views on biometric technology, and given the very strong opposition to the 1986 proposal for an Australian Identity Card, it was unlikely the government would ask for any feedback."

"It is just being implemented as a fait a compli, it's very draconian."

Senator Harris says Queenslanders are asking him to block legislation in the Senate that enables biometric technology to be used by government agencies.

"I will vote against this evil threat to Australia's freedom, which is a menace to the privacy of Australian citizens, " Senator Harris said.


Further Details Senator Harris: 07 4092 3194 or 0429 871 008

Also see Media Briefing which follows


Survey of terrorist target countries with ID card systems

(source: Privacy International, Mistaken Identity; Exploring the Relationship Between National Identity Cards & the Prevention of Terrorism, 2004)

Country No. of attacks deaths ID card Biometric

Afghanistan 4 34 yes no

Algeria 41 280 yes no

A r g e n t i n a 2 1 2 9 y e s n o

B a n g l a d e s h 5 4 9 y e s n o

Cambodia 8 37 yes yes

Colombia 90 400 yes no

Egypt 22 115 yes yes

France 31 37 yes no

India 46 520 no no

Indonesia 14 250 yes no

I s r a e l 2 2 7 - y e s y e s

Kenya 3 267 yes no

M o r o c c o - - y e s n o

Nigeria 2 171 yes yes

Pakistan 68 420 yes yes

P a l e s t i n e 2 4 0 - y e s n o

Peru 31 40 yes yes

Philippines 38 113 no no

Russia 32 620 yes yes

Saudi Arabia 10 30 no no

Spain 51 250 yes yes

Sri Lanka 27 440 yes no

T u r k e y 5 7 8 5 y e s n o

Uganda 12 42 no no

U n i t e d S t a t e s 1 3 3 6 5 0 n o n o

Eighty per cent of these countries have long-standing identity card systems, a third of which contain a biometric such as a fingerprint. While it is impossible to claim that terrorist incidents have been thwarted as a result of an ID card, the above data establishes that the cards are unable to eliminate terrorist incidents.

Privacy International's Report can be downloaded at:

Biometric Bonanza - 2004 Budget allocations

• The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) has been allocated $4.4 million to research and test the best way to incorporate biometric technologies into Australia's existing electronic visa and entry arrangements.

• In 2004-05, DIMIA will also develop a capacity to store and use digital biometric images to better identify its clients each time they deal with the Department. According to the Minister's Media Release:

"To protect our border we must constantly review our operations. It is vital that the Government continue to enhance border technologies given increased international travel, advanced identity fraud methods and technically sophisticated terrorists and criminals. The use of biometric identifiers will strengthen border protection through more stringent passport verification processes and will reduce the risk of passport fraud. The possibility of terrorists and other criminals using fraudulently obtained Australian passports to enter Australia will be substantially reduced. The introduction of biometric identifiers into Australian passports will keep us at the leading edge of international passport technology and fraud detection techniques."

• An allocation of $3.1 million will enable Customs to expand its automated face-recognition trial, Smart-Gate, to a second Australian international airport and additional users in 2004-05.

• Customs will extend the Smart-Gate system to holders of prototype Australian biometric passports, selected passengers and enrolled aircrew at two international airports.

• The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will receive $2.2 million in 2004-05 to test a prototype biometric passport for compatibility with US border control equipment.

Senator Harris's webpage on biometrics

Ian Marston Electorate Officer for Senator Len Harris