Federal government backs biometric face scans as key weapon to combat cyber criminals

The report sees biometric imagery as the digital answer to soaring cyber fraud.

The report sees biometric imagery as the digital answer to soaring cyber fraud. Photo: Getty

Australians will use biometric data, such as an image of the face, to verify identity online under a government plan to fight cyber crime.

The federal government has released a National Strategy for Identity Resilience, which sets out a battle plan for how all states and territories can protect identities.

All Australian governments have agreed to 10 principles, which will guide their approach.

Among them, the strategy says Australian governments will use biometrics – with individuals’ consent – to make it harder for criminals to misuse personal credentials.

The strategy, released on Saturday, promises governments will secure biometric data and protect the privacy of Australians.

“Combinations of biographic attributes (e.g. name, date of birth and licence number) do not adequately protect Australians from identity crime, and can be exposed in a data breach,” the strategy states.

“Passwords can be forgotten, stolen or compromised.”

Your face on file

Other principles seek to make it easier for Australians to access services and protect their identities.

Governments will work together to achieve interoperability between digital ID systems and credentials so Australians can access services in any jurisdiction.

There will still be non-digital identity options for those who want them, and governments have committed to creating stronger, nationally consistent standards for physical and digital credentials.

Governments will work to streamline how Australians update their credentials, allowing people to change their information across agencies.

They will also support businesses and government agencies to collect and hold onto less data, work to streamline the process for Australians who fall victim to a hack, and make clear who is responsible for the cost of remediating credentials.

The strategy flags a “mobile phone trust score” system wherein telcos would assign phone numbers a score based on whether they appear to be involved in fraud.

‘Future-ready identity system’

“Our approach to identity resilience needs to keep pace with our economic and social activity, and the changing nature of identity crime,” Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher and Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil said in a joint statement.

“It is essential we deliver a future-ready identity system.

“This starts with a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to identity and strong partnerships between Commonwealth and state and territory governments.”

Identity crime cost an estimated $3.1 billion in 2018-19.

The Department of Home Affairs is responsible for implementing the strategy in collaboration with the states and territories.


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