“If the terrorist is not on the AFP or state police radar, i.e. the lone wolf, how effective is a background check?”
The security clearance required by workers at Australian airports and ports could be heavily beefed up, if government measures to bring in biometric passes for restricted areas come into action.
Billed as a ‘long-term initiative’ by the Australian governments, the extra security features will be added to existing aviation security identity cards used by pilots, baggage handlers, passenger screening staff and other workers in areas of the airport closed off to passengers.
As reported by The Australian, the security upgrade could include other areas at risk of attack, with the maritime security identity card that enables access to ports and offshore oil and gas rigs also being upgraded.
Biometric cards are a form of identification that contain the bearer's unique physical and behavioural traits, making fraudulent use of them close to impossible. The information included in biometric security includes fingerprint data, retina and iris scans and voice recognition. Physical characteristic such as facial patterns and body movement are also covered.
The aiport security smart card being proposed by the Australian government will likely include security features enabling access to areas they have specific clearance to enter, such as optical strips, barcodes, embedded chips and holographic images.
The news comes nine months after the Australian government said it would become the first country to employ a fully automated biometric system that would require no human interference. Named ‘Seamless Traveller’ by the border authorities behind it, the government planned to use the pioneering technology at its capital’s airport, Canberra, this summer but it remains unclear whether this has gone ahead. Should it go into use, 90 percent of all travellers will be able to pass through passport control unaided by 2020.
The use of biometric cards has not been seen as the panacea to border security problems, however. Mike Carmody, a former chief of security at Federal Airports Corporation argued earlier in the year that such a card, which accesses the card holders’ background check, would only be effective to those known by the authorities. “If the terrorist is not on the AFP or state police radar, i.e. the lone wolf, how effective is a background check?”
In the UK, biometric cards for those visiting for more than six months have been compulsory since 2015. The cards include unique personal data, date of birth, immigration status and information on whether the holder can access public funds, health benefits and health services.
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