Australian IT reports that proposals to expand a background check system created a few years ago from maritime and aviation security personnel to more “national security” employment are raising privacy questions.
Australian Privacy Foundation spokesman Nigel Waters says the AusCheck Amendment Bill, currently before the federal Parliament, confirms fears that the scheme would be expanded “far beyond the initial focus on maritime and aviation security” when it was introduced in 2006.
“We are concerned that the definition of ‘national security’ remains so broad as to impose no meaningful limits on the range of checks that could be authorised under other legislation,” he said.
“We are also concerned about the collection of biometric information for use in identity checking, contrary to the recommendations of the Attorney-General’s Department’s own Privacy Impact Assessment.
“While the department seeks to reassure that only fingerprints will be used, and only in exceptional circumstances, the provisions allow for any biometric – presumably including DNA, voiceprints and iris or retina scans – and there is no guarantee that this will not become routine.”