NZ to collect biometric data from immigrants

Obtaining biometric data on prospective citizens to help curb identity fraud

The Department of Labour's planned "Single Client View" redevelopment of its immigration ICT system will collect biometric data from immigrants and integrate with other government identity management projects, according to a proposal for a privacy impact assessment.

"The collection of, and ability to check, biometric data on all applicants is critical for immigration risk management in the future," the tender document says.

"If approved, this project will dove-tail into the whole-of-government work on identity management being led by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and provide an important starting point in the supply chain of people who ultimately apply to DIA for New Zealand citizenship.

"Obtaining biometric data on prospective citizens at the point they first interact with a New Zealand Government agency dramatically reduces the risks of identity fraud, especially given that they may not apply for citizenship for many years after arriving in New Zealand."

The department wants to replace its existing system, which was the subject of some criticism from the Auditor-General earlier this month. The technology is aging and not expected to be functional beyond 2011, according to the tender. It plans to move it into a service-oriented architecture "to ensure alignment with, and leverage off, investments being made to establish enterprise-wide, and whole-of-government, ICT architecture."

The current technology has data distributed across multiple systems and the department wants to replace that with a system that delivers a single view of the client data.

"This would make all information available in one place and at one time for immigration decision makers and external agencies. A single view can be achieved only when systems coverage of all data sets is complete."

Other aspects of the project include upgrading the system's risk profiling methodology and allowing applications to be made online.

"This project aims to invest in software to analyze risk intelligence and to create risk profiles of those seeking to cross New Zealand's borders," the tender says. "It would embed risk profiling methods into the standard immigration operating system and, critically, enable far more sophisticated analysis of risk profiles than currently occurs."

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both of which make immigration decisions offshore, would also be given access to the system.

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Computerworld New Zealand staff

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