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Biometric data to be shared

Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday August 22, 2009

Yuko Narushima Immigration Correspondent

FINGERPRINTS of Australia's immigration detainees will be shared with Britain and Canada as part of a global push to toughen border security and eliminate identity fraud.An agreement to trade biometric data with the two countries was reached last night and will be announced by the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, in Perth today. It is anticipated the US will also join."This data-sharing will help Australian authorities to establish the true identities of unknown people, and ensure fraudulent cases are dealt with appropriately," he said.The database will make it easier to identify people faking asylum claims, hiding criminal histories and travelling under false identities.In a recent case, a man claiming asylum in Britain was matched to a fingerprints taken in the US, while travelling on an Australian passport. That man turned out to be a sexual assault suspect and was brought to Australia, tried and jailed.Senator Evans said the retention of personal information would comply with privacy laws.However, the changes sat uneasily with the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.Its president, Susan Harris-Rimmer, said: "This leaves me with a sense of disquiet. I'd really like to see the justification for this and see it implemented in a culturally sensitive manner."Asylum seekers who arrived in Australia without identification might do so for a valid reason and that was not a crime, she said.The associate law professor and head of the UTS Anti-Slavery Project, Jennifer Burn, said the changes would do little to combat the emerging problem of people trafficking.

© 2009 Sydney Morning Herald

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