Immigration New Zealand now has the ability to store photos of all non New Zealanders and to require fingerprints at entry points to the country.
Immigration minister Jonathan Coleman says in a press release that extending the use of biometrics will strengthen border security and enable Immigration to speed up visa application processing.
“Biometrics provides better tools which allow Immigration to confirm an individual’s identity and protect New Zealand’s border,” he says.
“The changes will protect people from identity theft and prevent the misuse of passports or visas by fraudsters and criminals. A further benefit is that the new technology will speed up visa application processing as we are more readily able to confirm who we are dealing with.”
New Zealand is part of a five-country conference biometric programme involving the immigration agencies of New Zealand, Canada, the US, Australia and the UK. This enables the various agtencies to share biometric data to help confirm identities.
Steve Stuart, general manager at Immigration New Zealand, says photographs will be scanned at the visa application stage and at the border.
“We are scanning photos from passports. In some cases live-capture photographs will be taken using cameras,” he says.
Where fingerprints are required, the person is advised of the process via a multi-language leaflet, available on the Immigration website. An electronic scanner will be used. Stuart says all biometrics are handled with strict rules around access of data. “A privacy impact assessment has been conducted in close consultation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and is publicly available on INZ’s website, www.immigration.govt.nz.” “For passport scanning we are using a L1 B5000 passport scanner. For fingerprint scanning we are using a Guardian Crossmatch Livescan reader. The Department of Labour is managing the software integration with Hewlett Packard, our application development vendor.” He says photos will be securely stored in INZ’s database. The photographs will be shared in cases where identity fraud has been detected through fingerprint matching. The fingerprint system cost $95,000. New passport scanners are funded from the hardware replacement programme. The passport reader software integration cost approximately $250, 000, according to Stuart.