National Face Matching Biometric Capability: Australian Government responds to privacy impact assessment The Australian government has sought to address concerns regarding the introduction of its $18.5 million national face recognition system by agreeing to implement a number of recommendations made in a preliminary privacy impact assessment. The National Face Matching Biometric Capability is designed to combat sophisticated identify crime by facilitating the sharing and matching of facial images contained in government records (such as passports and driver licences) between law enforcement agencies. It is estimated that identity crime costs Australia around $2 billion per year and that it is more common than crimes such as assault and robbery. The Government claims that in addition to preventing identity crime, the new system will help combat other serious criminal activity, including organised crime and terrorism. However, privacy advocates have criticised the system as being overly invasive and lacking sufficient oversight. In addition, there is disagreement as to its accuracy, with a similar program administered by the FBI reported as having an error rate of 1 in 5. The Attorney General's Department commissioned Information Integrity Solutions to undertake the privacy impact assessment in early 2015, and has pledged to adopt (in whole or in part) all 16 recommendations, which were published on 16 December 2015. These include compliance with the Australian Privacy Principles, strictly controlling access to the system, limiting the data required for matching and collecting images, and requiring agencies to publish information on their use of the system on an annual basis. For more information, please contact Anne-Marie Allgrove, Toby Patten, Matthew Dempsey or Emma Burn.