Victoria uploads data for national facial recognition system


Victoria will begin uploading driver’s licence photographs to the federal government National Driver Licence Facial Recognition Solution (NDLFRS).

The NDLFRS is operated by the federal Department of Home Affairs.

The Victorian government’s announcement today marks a significant step towards the full launch of a national Australian facial recognition system, although for now use of the images will be restricted to state agencies.

VicRoads and Victoria Police will use the system to unearth duplicate IDs and fraud, the state government said.

The government said agencies in other states and territories and federal entities will be unable to access the Victorian images until it is satisfied with federal enabling legislation for the system, which will facilitate a number of facial identification and facial verification services.

The relevant legislation is currently being examined by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).

The Commonwealth bill outlines five identity-matching services, including face verification, face identification, the One Person One Licence Service (to identify individuals that hold multiple licences), a utility service to assess the accuracy and quality of facial data holdings, and a service for securely sharing biometric identity information between government agencies.

Although Victoria is a party to the October 2017 Council of Australian Governments agreement to establish the new system, the state government has indicated some qualms with the proposed federal legislation.

“This technology will help keep government agencies ahead of the pack when it comes to combating identity fraud, which is one of the most common and costly crimes facing our state,” Gavin Jennings, Victoria’s special minister of state, said in a statement released today.

“We are doing this as part of a national agreement, while ensuring the privacy of Victorians is not compromised.”

“This will make it harder for people to conceal their true identities and use multiple licences to avoid traffic fines, demerit points or licence cancellations,” said Victoria’s roads minister Jaala Pulford.

“This will greatly assist in removing unauthorised and dangerous drivers from our roads.”

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Tags privacybiometricsfacial recognitionThe Capability




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Govts band together to create national disability dataset – Strategy – Software


Federal, state and territory IT ministers have agreed to pull together a national dataset on disabled Australians to start delivering better services.

The decision, taken at the first sitting of the newly re-badged Australian Data and Digital Council on Friday, paves the way for a federation-wide view of the disability sector.

Described as an “enduring longitudinal National Disability Data Asset”, the dataset is intended to “better understand how people with disability are supported through services, payments and programs” across the country.

It will initially begin life as a $15 million pilot funded by the federal government that will incorporate datasets from the federal, NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australian governments.

While no date is currently slated for the asset, ministers have asked the council’s senior officials group to “prioritise the development of business case and sustainable funding model”.

This business case will then be used by the remaining jurisdictions – Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT – to inform their decision to opt into the asset.

“The interim findings of the pilot phase will be brought back to this Council by mid-2020,” the council’s communique [pdf] states.

Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said the asset was a “clear example of the benefits of using data to provide better outcomes for those Australians that need it most”.

“The National Disability Data Asset will give government the insights it needs to better understand and address the challenges facing Australians with disability irrespective of their location,” he said.

The announcement comes just days after offering more details on the government’s proposed data sharing reforms.

Life events and Interoperable digital driver’s licences

Ministers also used the council meeting to agree on a new national approach to government service delivery that focuses on life events such as having a baby or looking for work.

With a number of state governments now looking at designing services around life events, a series of principles have been developed to “guide national life event-based initiatives”.

“The principles include the need to reduce duplication, ensuring the efficient use of collective resources and maximising the benefits of cross-jurisdictional learning, sharing and integration,” the communique states.

The Digital Transformation Agency is already working with the NSW and ACT governments on pilot projects for ‘end of life’, ‘retirement’ and ‘birth of a child’ life events, which will now be further developed.

“The Birth of a Child pilot led by the ACT will deliver a seamless experience for parents to engage with government services about their new baby and establish a trusted and verified identity for the child,” the communique states.

“Noting the benefits of this initiative, the Council today agreed to work on a national basis to design, test and implement this work.

“NSW, QLD and the Commonwealth agreed to work together to investigate digital birth certificates, to enhance the Birth of a Child life event project.”

Ministers have also asked the senior officials group to undertake a “strategic stocktake” of opportunities to integrate government services delivery activities and report at the next meeting.

One area already identified as in need of improved interoperability is digital driver’s licences, which have launched in South Australia and are nearing launch in NSW.

“Jurisdictions agreed to work together to consider digital interoperability of digital drivers licences and whether a consistent approach can be developed,” the communique states.

“Ministers asked the Senior Officials Group to investigate opportunities for reform and report back to the next Council meeting.”

Queensland to appoint first digital chief

Queensland’s IT minister Mick de Brenni used the meeting to announce plans to appoint the state’s first chief customer and digital officer.

The CCDO would be tasked with overseeing the development of customer-focused government services to help position Queensland as a leader in digital transformation.

“The Palaszcuk Government is placing its customers – the people of Queensland – at the heart of everything we do,” Brenni said.

“This new role of Chief Customer and Digital Officer will ensure we will provide assurance at every level of the government’s digital systems, reduce duplication and that we invest in digital projects that meet the needs of Queenslanders.”


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National security concerns threaten US-China undersea cable: WSJ – Strategy – Networking


USofficials are seeking to block an undersea cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, backed by Google, Facebook and a Chinese partner, over national-security concerns, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The Justice Department has signalled staunch opposition to the project because of concerns over its Chinese investor, Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co, and the direct link that the cable would provide to Hong Kong, the WSJ reported, citing people involved in the discussion. 

“DOJ does not comment on its ongoing assessment of applications that the FCC has referred for national security and law enforcement concerns arising out of foreign investment or control,” said Marc Raimondi, a national security spokesman for the US Department of Justice.

Google, Facebook and Dr. Peng did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Subsea cables form the backbone of the internet by carrying 99 percent of the world’s data traffic.


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