Australia's biometric identification project has been terminated

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  • A project to create a crime database using facial recognition has been dumped.
  • The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission announced the termination of a $52 million contract with NEC Australia.
  • Reports that the project costs had doubled to almost $100 million.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s (ACIC) biometrics project, adding facial recognition to a national crime database, has been binned following reports of delays and budget blowouts.

ACIC today announced it had decided to discontinue the Biometric Identification Services project following significant delays.

The contract signed in April 2016 with NEC Australia to deliver the crime next generation fighting tool was terminated today. It had been due to run to 2021.

The project had been suspended by mutual agreement on June 4 while commercial negotiations were ongoing. NEC staff working in Canberra had their access rights revoked.

The Australian National Audit Office is conducting an audit into the project.

A PwC audit of the project reportedly found the costs had blown out to $94.6 million by November last year.

The project was working to replace the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System by adding facial recognition and footprints to the fingerprint database.

“The ACIC is committed to delivering projects that enhance capability for our law enforcement partners,” according to a written statement by the crime intelligence commission.

“As part of this approach we regularly review the scope, expected benefits and ongoing feasibility of our projects.

“The ACIC is committed to providing national criminal information and intelligence services, including fingerprint data, to more than 70,000 police officers and other accredited users on a daily basis, to keep them and the Australian community safe.”

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