Australia set to ditch passports for biometrics

It's thought this change could come into effect in 2020

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A View of the Sydney Opera House seen from Sydney Harbour in Australia | Image: Chris Radburn / PA Archive/Press Association Images

It may seem hard to imagine right now, but it looks as though Australia is working on a technological solution that could mean the end of the passports in their country. The plan involves biometric tech that can recognise faces, irises and fingerprints.  

Known as the "Seamless Traveler System", this technology will allow international visitors to enter the country with ease, in the same way citizens do. The goal is for 90% of arrivals to pass through unmanned electronic stations by 2019 / 2020. 

This process is budgeted to cost $94million over five years and will make Australian airports more efficient. It's hoped that a pilot programme, using this technology, will kick off at Canberra airport in July. 

“Our ability to harness the power of big data is increasing exponentially,” John Coyne, head of border security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told The Sydney Morning Herald. 

“The department is asking tenderers to provide innovative solutions to allow arriving travelers to self-process,” a spokeswoman for immigration said. 

While this sounds like a solution to long queues and immigration control, it does raise questions about data protection and privacy.