18/06/2018 9:10 AM IST | Updated 18/06/2018 9:12 AM IST

Why Australia Is Discontinuing Its Aadhaar-Like Biometrics Identity Project


Although the Indian government remains all-in behind the controversial biometric ID project Aadhaar, and hopes to take it to the rest of the world - the idea seems to have hit a few snags in other places. Australia just announced its decision to discontinue the Biometric Identification Services (BIS) project, citing delays as the cause. However, Innovation Aus reported that the project is said to have been roughly $40 million over budget and returning a large amount of false positives.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) inked a $46 million deal with tech company NEC Australia in 2016 to expand its fingerprint database with additional biometric features. Going beyond the fingerprint and iris that Aadhaar collects, the BIS would also look at palm prints, facial recognition, and footprints. However, two years down the line, faced with delays and overspending, the Australian government has shown willingness to pull the plug.

That's very different from what's happening here in India, where despite a mountain of leaks, some technical and some just very human, and huge costs involved, the Aadhaar seems here to stay.

In a statement, Michael Phelan, Chief Executive Officer of the ACIC, writes:

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has decided to discontinue the Biometric Identification Services (BIS) project. This decision was taken in light of project delays.

The contract with NEC Australia to deliver the BIS project has today been terminated. The project was suspended by mutual agreement on 4 June 2018 while commercial negotiations were ongoing. NEC Australia was contracted to deliver the capability in April 2016.

NEC Australia says it is "extremely disappointed" with the decision. It said that the project "was ready to be handed over to the ACIC for System Acceptance Testing when the project was placed on hold by the ACIC".