Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has begun fingerprint checks with Australia as part of a biometric programme to strengthen border security and prevent identity fraud.
The programme will expand to include checks with the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States under the umbrella of the Five Country Conference (FCC), which has developed a system for securely – and with substantial privacy safeguards – matching fingerprint biometrics of persons of interest. Fingerprints of FCC citizens will not be shared.
The system will help INZ combat fraud and strengthen border security by helping identify, early in the immigration process, people with criminal histories or those using false identities.
“Organised crime groups and illegal migrants are increasingly using identity and passport fraud to evade detection,” said Arron Baker, INZ’s Programme Manager for Identity and Biometrics.
“Biometrics uses technology to improve on traditional checks using names to detect and prevent these people from entering New Zealand. It is a fast, effective and privacy protecting way of quickly facilitating genuine clients while filtering out those who pose risks to New Zealand.”
INZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship on 30 June 2010, and is now completing similar agreements with the UK, Canada and the US.
The Department of Labour (now Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) completed a Privacy Impact Assessment of the system in close consultation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. This is available to the public now: Privacy Impact Assessment [PDF].