Biometric identification is an identification technology that relies on the body’s physical characteristics for authentication. With the rapid development of information technology, biometric technology has the property of being able to verify identity without the help of foreign objects, without being lost or changed. Biometric identification has been applied to access control, attendance checking, network payment and public safety prevention. Common biometric forms include fingerprint recognition, eye pattern recognition, voiceprint recognition and face recognition. The practice and application of the technology in China, with a vast population base and frequent mobility, has promoted continuous technological progress and improvement. With the rapid progress of information globalization today, is biometric technology suitable for promotion and use in Australia? This article will discuss the practice and impact of biometric technology in China from the perspective of critical thinking and analyze the pros and cons. Draw lessons from China’s case and combine the actual situation in Australia to analyze whether Australia should adopt biometric technology.
DEVELOPMENT OF BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION
The biometric technology is based on human beings’ cognition of their anatomical, chemical or behavioural characteristics, and gives electronic devices the ability to recognize individuals through biological or individual characteristics. Although biometric recognition technology is now widely used in electronic products, the root of distinguishing characteristics through biometrics can be traced back to 500BC（Thakkar, 2020）.
Prehistoric era: Thumbprints/fingerprints in business
BC 200 to AD 1500s: Handprints in criminal trails
Picture of Bertillon system measurement by Stewart Van Cleve. All rights reserved
1960: Birth of the facial recognition
1965: First signature recognition system
1985: vascular pattern recognition
1991: Real time face recognition gets real
The rapid development of science and technology in the 21st century has brought biometrics into a new stage. With efficient systems and mobile devices, biometrics is no longer a new technology far from daily life. Since the iPhone 5S, there has been touch ID, and the voice assistant Siri. Face recognition is now common on mobile phones. China’s mobile payment, Alipay and WeChat payment have also replaced a large part of cash transactions. Automatic ticket checking through customs often uses a combination of facial recognition and fingerprints instead of manual. However, the current society’s emphasis on personal information makes the application of this technology risky. Even face recognition has an error rate of 2%. With the development of various technologies today, fingerprints may be maliciously “copied” (3D printing) because of the misuse of personal data. In different national conditions, people’s perceptions and concerns about biometrics will be different, so is it suitable for Australia?
YES! WELCOME TO AUSTRALIA!
cover of Biometric identification Youtube.
According to the latest statistics, although some of the missing persons can be found in a short period, there are still 38,000 people missing in Australia every year. There are still about 2,600 long-term missing persons( Australia Federal Police, 2020). In several jurisdictions in Australia, curfews have been proposed as a solution to the problem of juvenile delinquency, but this policy has not been understood by everyone and has been criticized due to the expansion of the Internet and the criminalization of non-criminal behavior （Goldsworthy, 2018）.The cost of finding missing persons includes search needs, family losses, medical and legal expenses. Can this kind of human resources, material resources, and money loss be resolved by introducing a biometric system and cooperating with national monitoring?
In China, Facial Recognition helped the police arrest a suspect at Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung’s 60,000 concert in Nanchang. ‘If I knew of it [facial recognition], I would not go.’ This is what the suspect said after he was arrested ( Wang, 2018).
One fact is that in China, the use of facial recognition technology to monitor the public has become common. Approximately 40 local governments have used closed-circuit television surveillance systems to monitor individuals on the government’s blacklist, covering festivals and public places with heavy traffic， and during the airport. The police also arrested 25 and 3 suspects in the same way at the Qingdao International Beer Festival and Shenyang Railway Station (Wang, 2018).
This system has been connected to the police database.
It can be seen that through the entry and management of a large number of residents’ biological characteristics data, reasonable overall planning and corresponding legal supervision are required, and the results are worth expecting.
On the other hand, the survey shows that Australians have a relatively high degree of support for the implementation of the biometric identification system. A study by credit card system Mastercard shows that 60% of Australians are willing to use biometrics to make convenient payments in the next five years (Yoo, 2020).
The results of the study also showed that 56% of Australians accept fingerprint authentication, 45 are willing to use face, retina or iris recognition technology, and 38% accept voice recognition. 80% of Australians believe that biometrics is more secure than passwords, and 77% of respondents believe that not having to remember passwords is an improvement.
Surin Fernando, vice president of Mastercard, said that biometric recognition technology relieves people of the burden of memory. If you always forget personal information such as passwords, you should probably use a part of your body to make convenient payments. (Yoo, 2020)
Fernando also said that the current use of cash is getting lower and lower, and consumers want to make payments more convenient. It is logical to use biometric technology extensively. In China, WeChat and Alipay have replaced cash payment in many cases. In some areas of Australia, where Chinese people gather, many stores support mobile payment. Efficiency is essential in this era. It saves time for shop assistants to count coins—the most obvious way in life.
The response of the Australian public is relatively positive. The support of the people when the positive attitude is introduced in the future is also significant.
What are Australians worried about?
Risk of human rights!
Images from How to worry less with this easy 1-step method | Well+Good. All rights reserved.
Privacy and human rights have always been valued in Australia. The plan of the Biometric identification system has caused concern.
According to newly-published research by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), most Australians have concerns about biometric technology. This high level of concern is in stark contrast to Australians’ apparent willingness to use biometrics in daily life and more public places. Respondents said that the use of facial recognition technology for government purposes, such as identifying criminal suspects, handling airport security, passports or driving licenses, is acceptable. However, in terms of matching images on social media, applying for a mobile phone, and unlocking or starting a car, Australians have shown resistance (Stilgherrian, 2020).
Acceptability of using facial recognition technologies for specific purposes (weighted data) (%). n=9,911.
Image: Australian Institute of Criminology. All rights reserved
The Department of Home Affairs once proposed to enable Face Verification Service and Document Verification Service to facilitate information exchange and security between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. This plan was stalled due to insufficient privacy protection.
The same concerns also exist in China. In 2017, the China director at Human Rights Watch stated that Mass DNA collection by the powerful Chinese police absent effective privacy protections or an independent judicial system is a perfect storm for abuses. The local police do not communicate well with the public and are collecting individuals Controversy arose during the information process. In the case of misconceptions between supervisory agencies and ordinary people, the boundaries of the legality of DNA collection have always been problems. DNA databases are not illegal in nature and are sometimes considered permitted investigative tools. However, DNA collection and storage mechanisms must be fully regulated and consistent with legal security goals. The European Court pointed out that DNA databases may raise human rights issues ( Human Rights Watch, 2017).
At the same time, Australia is also a country with a severe population ageing problem. Although biometric identification may solve the problem of people’s forgetfulness in terms of passwords, popularization of science also takes time, workforce and material resources to allow the elderly to change their habits from the way they are used to. Change, this will be a big project.
For ordinary Internet users, the biometric technology system will first affect the lives of these people. As Australian Internet users who daily receive information circulating in the world, these citizens will have a relatively high acceptance of the concept of citing biometric technology. They have an understanding of the convenience and security that this technology can bring, and they are the mainstay in the process of popularization. At the same time, these users have particularities in the local context of Australia can also keep up with the news of technological progress and biometric technology in time, learn from experience, and put forward reliable opinions. Their concerns and evaluations about the implementation of biometric technology in Australia are critical.
The possible impact of biometric technology in Australia is diverse. On the positive side, the introduction of this technology may reduce the cost of fighting crime and increase the safety index. It will also be more convenient in life and improve economic efficiency. However, from the experience of China, which has implemented large-scale biometric technology, the potential risk of personal information leakage may also be faced by Australia as a country that values the privacy of citizens. Technical control and supervisory personnel in appropriate fields, combined with gradual cognitive guidance, are all necessary. For a sparsely populated country like Australia with a severely ageing population, the introduction of biometrics is an inevitable result. However, the future of large-scale promotion of biometric identification requires the joint efforts of governments and technology companies.
Thakkar, Danny. (2020). Biometric Authentication Now and Then: History and Timeline. Retrieved from
Goldsworthy, T. (2018). An examination of the utility of criminal curfews as a policy response to youth crime in Australia 55. 2018 Crime Prevention and Communities Conference, Melbourne, Australia.
Stilgherrian for The Full Tilt. (2020). Australians are concerned about the risks of biometric identification, but still find its use acceptable in a wide range of scenarios.
Yoo, Tony. (2020). 60% of Australians will use body parts to pay by 2025
Human Rights Watch. (2017). China: Police DNA Database Threatens Privacy.
Wang Jian. （2018）. Facial recognition used to catch suspect in crowd of 60,000 concertgoers. China Daily.
Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201804/12/WS5aceb131a3105cdcf6517bc0.html