Identity-matching Services Bill 2018 Introduced Into Commonwealth Parliament

Thursday 8 February 2018 @ 10.56 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research

Yesterday, 7th February 2018, the Identity-matching Services Bill 2018 was introduced into the Australian House of Representatives by the Honourable Peter Dutton MP. The long title of the Bill is:

“A Bill for an Act about dealing with information for providing identity-matching services and for carrying on certain identity or community protection activities, and for related purposes”

Background

On 5 October 2017, the Prime Minister and the state and territory leaders, signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services (IGA). This agreement was created with the purpose of matching and sharing “identity information to prevent identity crime, support law enforcement, uphold national security, promote road safety, enhance community safety and improve service delivery, while maintaining robust privacy and security safeguards.” (p 2).  For more information, see TimeBase's earlier article on the IGA.

The IGA provides agencies from all jurisdictions with the capability to use new Face Matching Services. These services will give the agencies access to photos of passports, drivers licences, visas and citizenships, with robust privacy safeguards. The collection, use and distribution of these images will be controlled by the Department of Home Affairs via a central exchange or interoperability hub.

The two types of Face Matching Services are described on the Attorney-General’s website:

“The Face Verification Service (FVS) is a one-to-one, image-based verification service that can match a person’s photo against an image on one of their government records (such as a passport photo) to help verify their identity. Often these transactions will occur with the individual’s consent.

The Face Identification Service (FIS) is a one-to-many, image-based identification service that can match a photo of an unknown person against multiple government records to help establish their identity. Access to the FIS will be limited to police and security agencies, or specialist fraud prevention areas within agencies that issue passports, and immigration and citizenship documents.

The FVS is now operational, providing access to passport, immigration and citizenship images. The FIS will come online (for Commonwealth images in the first instance) in early 2018.

Access to driver licence images will be facilitated through a national database, hosted by the Commonwealth. It will begin operating in a staged implementation, from mid-2018. This system will support additional face matching services to help improve the integrity of driver licence data holdings.”

The Bill

According to the Bill's Explanatory Memorandum:

“The Identity-matching Services Bill 2018 (the Bill) will facilitate the secure, automated and accountable exchange of identity information between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, pursuant to the objectives of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services (IGA), agreed by COAG in October 2017. The Bill will achieve this by providing explicit legal authority for the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) to collect, use and disclose identification information in order to operate the technical systems that will facilitate the identity-matching services envisaged by the IGA.” 

In facilitating the IGA, the Bill establishes the legislative framework for the private and safe distribution of the Facial Matching Services. While Part 2 of the Bill proposes to formulate the definitions of the various aspects of the Facial Matching Services, Part 3 regulates the “collection, use and disclosure of identification information”.  The simplified outline of Part 3 is contained in section 16 of the Bill:

The Department may collect identification information by means of the interoperability hub or NDLFRS for any of the following  purposes:

  1. providing or developing identity-matching services for identity and community protection activities;
  2. developing, operating or maintaining the NDLFRS;
  3. protecting the identities of persons who have legally assumed identities or are under witness protection.

The Department may use or disclose for any of those purposes:

  1. information so collected (regardless of the purpose for which it was collected); and
  2. identification information generated by the NDLFRS.

For the purposes of State and Territory laws that limit disclosure of identification information by an authority of a State or Territory but have an exception for disclosure authorised by a Commonwealth law, this Part authorises such disclosure to the Department for inclusion of the information in the NDLFRS.

Part 4 of the Bill deals with the protection of information being disclosed by the Facial Matching Services. This Part includes the creation of an offence relating to recording and disclosing identity information (s 21).

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

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