Tony Rodgers/The Daily

Law enforcement faces up to new $18.5m weapon on crime

LET'S face it - if you're a crim, chances are science will land you in jail.

Identity thieves including terrorists will be the targets of Australia's newest weapon on crime but the Federal Government has moved to allay any fears over privacy breaches.

Police and government agencies will use the $18.5 million National Facial Biometric Matching Capability system to share and match photographs on ID documents such as passports to establish the identities of terror, murder and other criminal suspects.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the "one-to-one image-based verification service" would allow police and law agencies to match one photograph of an unknown person against many photographs contained in government records.

"This process will expedite putting a name to the face of terror suspects, murderers and armed robbers and will also help to detect fraud cases involving criminals that use multiple identities," he said.

Mr Keenan said program would operate under the Privacy Act 1988 and agencies would need to have legislative authority to collect and use facial images.

"The capability is being established with strong privacy safeguards, informed by independent privacy impact assessments," he said.

"This initiative does not involve new powers for the Commonwealth - it's simply a mechanism to share existing information already held by jurisdictions."


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