Biometric Passports: Farewell to Privacy?
Australia will be the first country to introduce biometric passports in the next two years in compliance with a United States deadline. Facial biometric technology will be used to create what are imagined to be virtually tamper-proof passports. These passports will be capable of storing personal information in excess of that stored on existing passports, and thus have considerable significance for personal privacy. Their introduction, in effect signals the subtle creation of a universal identification system, which Australians have so vehemently opposed in the past. Their creation also undermines and challenges an already weak Australian privacy regime. As yet, no stringent, binding legal guidelines have been set out by Australia for the regulation of gathering, storing and sharing of personal information. The author argues that the aims of introducing biometric passports, though laudable, combined with the technological drawbacks of such passports (which will be demonstrated in the paper) cannot justify such an infringement on personal privacy. Further, their threat to privacy points to a wider loss of control over our personal information and a diminution of our privacy rights. The author addresses these issues from a legal perspective and makes specific recommendations for their regulation.
Keywords: Passports, Privacy, Human Rights, Biometric technology
Ms Anju Srivastava
Masters Student, Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne