Biometric identification-should or should not be applied in the Australian context?


iometric identification, the technology to measure an individual biological or behavior with data recorded(Hu, 2020), including Face Recognition Technology(FRT), Fingerprint, Iris Scan, and voiceprint.

This essay firstly analysis of the history and development of biometric identification, especially the use of FR]T in China. Part II is  arguments for introduction and against the introduction to Australia, from the perspective of privacy and criminal issues, and past cases to prove. The third part is the implications of my proposal for ordinary internet users. The end of the essay is the conclusion while protecting the privacy of people, the system is applied in the Australian context.

What is biological identification?

In the 19th century, scientists discovered that everyone’s fingerprints were different, in the 20th century, the theory that no two people’s irises are similar has been proven. Biometric identification system takes advantage of biology’s uniqueness and pervasiveness, which means everyone has it but is different from each otherJian, Li, Pankanti, 2000, p91). The biometrics market is growing rapidly. Biometric identification system is generally used for monitoring, banking system, tracking down criminals, etc. It also plays a significant role in daily life, using fingerprint locks and face ID smartphones.The picture shows the technologies of biological identification

Since the 1960s and 1970s, improvements in fingerprint recognition have occurred when companies developed devices that automatically identified fingerprints for legal enforcement. From the late 1960s, when the FBI began using an automatic fingerprint identification device, to the late 1970s, a number of devices began to be widely used in the United States, the first biometric identification machine was sold in 1978.

In 2004, China started to use the 2nd generation IDcard, which recorded Chinese citizens’ fingerprints and faces. Skynet system, the Chinese political monitoring system since 2003, works through several monitors and face recognition systems. The BBC journalist John Sudworth took an experiment in 2017, Guiyang, Guizhou. Police officers in Guiyang uploaded his photos into a database and found him in the crowded train station in just seven minutes.

A screenshot from John Sudworth’s video

Ian Berle(p9) explained the Face Recognition Technology(FRT) is “a biometric image capture tool that is used for either identity verification or to identify a person to connect them definitively to their indexed data.” FRT is often used in airports, railway stations and other transportation hubs. After Face ID is widely used in smartphones, it is increasingly used in daily life, such as WeChat payment and access control in residential areas.

Should Australia apple it? Yes!

Some people argued that Australia should apple biometric identification because it will reduce the crime rate and the spread of Covid-19 and strengthen visas’ control for foreigners.

Biometric identification can find suspects faster.When criminals leave their fingerprints, the police only need to find the corresponding person in the database to solve the case. Through face recognition technology, as long as the criminal is monitored and photographed, the criminal’s escape route can be quickly determined. For example, in the 2014 terrorist attack in Kunming Railway Station, China, through Skynet, all the murderers were caught in only 40 hours. Biometric identification is a monitoring tool to reduce the crime rate.

Skynate found the escaped criminals by Face Recognition

Biometric identification technology can monitor and control the spread of the Covid-19.

During the Covid-19 epidemic, many infections were due to the gatherings of people. Even if the government requested a ban on multi-person gatherings and self-isolation, many people still ignored the regulations. When an infected person is confirmed, NSW

Australia is a country of tourism and immigration, a large number of tourists, new immigrants, and international students come to Australia every year. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for the year ending 30 June 2019, over 7.5 million migrants were living in Australia, in 2018, about eight hundred thousand oversea students educated in Australia, approximately 9.4 million tourists visited Australia from overseas in 2019. On 22 June 2020, the Australian government accounted for launching a new Enterprise Biometric Identification Services (EBIS) system to help travelers apply and pass visa quickly. Also, EBIS will increase the border safety. ‘The long term growth in the volume of travelers that will hopefully return after COVID-19, (but so too will) the increased risk of potential terrorist or fraudulent activity. (This) means that effective border security is more important than ever,’ said Rick Mayhew, vice president and general manager for Unisys Asia Pacific. (AVISIAN ,2020)

Health will notify the place of infection through Twitter and the official website,

reminding close contacts to self-isolate. However, not everyone can even notice the latest news on the Internet, especially some older adults who are not good at using social media. Otherwise, these close contacts may not consciously isolate themselves. Biometric identification can identify these close contacts through face recognition technology, remind and supervise them to self-quarantine.

The screenshot of BSW Health twitter

Should Australia introduce it? NO!

Opponents believe that Australia does not yet have the basic conditions to use biometrics identification and cannot guarantee citizens’ basic privacy rights. Australia is a democratic country, but China is a socialist country, different political systems have different national conditions. The biometric identification applied in China is not applied in Australia.

Biometrics identification needs to collect and store a large amount of data, so a specific agency to supervise the agency that saves and uses biometric information is crucial. Dr. Marcus Smith noted that Australia has ‘no independent, specific oversight mechanisms exist to oversee or regulate the collection, retention and use of biometric information’. (Parliament of Australia, 2019)

Biometric identification is not a very mature technology, and any new technology may contain errors. Ian Berle argued that the difference between ‘identity’ and ‘identification’, identity is extrinsically a posteriori knowledge, identification is variable. When identification is used as the only evidence to recognize identity, there may be cases of confessions.

Privacy and human rights are two major issues facing biometric identification. Nigel Brew, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of Australia reported the data retention issues in Australia. Following the data breach in the United Kingdom and the United States, Australian data retention proposal was strongly criticized in terms of privacy and civil liberties, and lacked details. Advisory Report On The Identity-Matching Services Bill 2019 gave a report about most of the inquiry’s submitters raised concerns around privacy and considerable opposition to the proposal. The collection, retention and disclosure of biometric information limits personal information privacy and sensitive information can be extracted or inferred from biometric identification. Biometric identification treats people as data in a database, which violates human rights.


If Australia apply biometric identification system, there are some implications on internet users’ daily life.

First of all, our daily use of the Internet will be safer, especially for online bank. When logging in to online banking, fingerprint or face recognition is required, avoiding bank information theft. Except for banks, healthcare, visa and education systems can also use biometric identification to increase users’ security.

In addition, biometric identification can be use as replacing the password and keys of home security. ‘Biometrics builds on the concept of replacing “something you have” with “who you are” which has proven to be a more secure technology to safeguard personal information.’ (John Trader, 2015).


In conclusion, as a technology with a history of only a few decades, biometrics can make our lives more convenient and safer. Still, there are also many problems to solve, like protecting people’s privacy and human rights.Biometrics identification has brought safety and convenience to my life, so I think Australia should introduce it.

Reference List

Budget Direct. (2019, September 1). Australian Tourism Industry 2020: Travel Research & Statistics. Budget Direct.

  Berle, I. (2020). Face Recognition Technology Compulsory Visibility and Its Impact on Privacy and the Confidentiality of Personal Identifiable Images  (1st ed. 2020.). Springer International Publishing.

corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, C. (2013, November 7). Surveillance in society-global communications monitoring and data retention.

corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, C. (2019, October 23). 2. Biometric systems and privacy.

How Biometrics Complement GDPR Regulations. (2019, September 6).

International Student Data 2018.

  Jain, A., Hong, L., & Pankanti, S. (2000). Biometric identification. Communications of the ACM, 43(2), 90–98.

m2sys. (2019, March 27). 5 Ways Biometric Technology Impacts Our Everyday Life.

Migration, Australia, 2018-19.

News – COVID-19 (Coronavirus) statistics. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) statistics – News.

Staff, B. A. V. I. S. I. A. N. (1970, July 22). Australian biometric ID launched for travelers. SecureIDNews.

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