16 June 2011

Identity, Privacy and Aviation Security

The national Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Committee has released the report of its Inquiry into the adequacy of aviation and maritime security measures to combat serious and organised crime.

The report questions the efficiency of the aviation and maritime secvurity card scheme and suggests that there is -
evidence of infiltration of airports and marine ports by organised crime for criminal activity such as drug and firearm imports, tariff avoidance, people trafficking and people smuggling, money laundering, and air cargo theft.
The document will presumably attract most attention over the Committee's call for aircraft passengers to show photo ID immediately prior to boarding, supposedly in "a bid to stop organised crime bosses travelling freely under false identities". Let's not ask whether crime czars will be able to charter private aircraft or - horreur - avail themselves of fake identity documents.

The report offers 22 recommendations. They are that -
R1 the scope of the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 (Cth) and the Maritime Transport & Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 (Cth) be widened to include serious and organised crime in addition to terrorist activity and unlawful interference.

R2 security at major airports be undertaken by a suitably trained government security force.

R3 joint maritime taskforces, mirroring the functions of the Joint Aviation Investigation Teams and Joint Aviation Intelligence Groups in the maritime sector be established in every state and the Northern Territory. These taskforces should include officers of the Australian Federal Police, state or territory police, the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service and the Australian Crime Commission.

R4 the formation of a Commonwealth maritime crime taskforce that would act as a national Australian Federal Police led 'flying squad', responding to specific intelligence and also conducting randomised audits of maritime and seaport security.

R5 the Attorney-General's Department conduct a review of current information sharing arrangements between law enforcement agencies and private organisations in the aviation and maritime sectors.

R6 the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991 (Cth) be amended so as to create a new offence of deliberately travelling under a false identity.

R7 it be made a legal requirement to provide photo identification confirming passenger identity immediately prior to boarding an aircraft.

R8 the Commonwealth Government review the technical and administrative requirements necessary to facilitate the effective sharing of information between airlines and air cargo agents and law enforcement agencies and the Australian Crime Commission Fusion Centre for the purpose of enhancing aviation security and law enforcement activities. The review should include research into technical requirements for such a scheme, the costs involved and any relevant statutory or other barrier to the sharing of such information. The findings of the review should be reported to the Australian Parliament.

R9 the Australian Government provide further resources to support an increased presence for currency and illicit drug detection canine units at Australian airports.

R10 access to port security areas prescribed under the Maritime Transport & Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 (Cth) should require verification that the Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) belongs to the individual seeking access, either through human gate operators, verification by Closed Circuit Television or any other appropriate solution.

R11 the development of a system that enables the confidential movement and examination of containers that increases the likelihood that trusted insiders involved in serious or organised crime are not alerted to law enforcement agency interest in a container.

R12 the Commonwealth government further invest in CCTV at airports and ports, with consideration of a number of ongoing improvements, including:
• that CCTV cameras should be capable of producing footage of evidential quality;
• the continuing lead role of Customs in coordinating the monitoring of CCTV networks; and
• that CCTV networks should be complemented with automated number plate recognition (ANPR), and/or facial recognition technology.
R13 Customs be given the power to revoke a depot, warehouse or broker's license if it determines, on the strength of compelling criminal intelligence, that an individual or individuals are involved or strongly associated with significant criminal activity.

R14 the Attorney-General's Department, in consultation with the Australian Crime Commission, reviews the list of relevant security offences under the Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) and MSIC schemes to assess whether any further offences are required in order to effectively extend those schemes to protect the aviation and maritime sectors against the threat of infiltration by serious and organised criminal networks.

R15 the Attorney-General's Department arrange for a suitable law enforcement agency to be given the power to revoke an ASIC or MSIC if it is determined that a cardholder is not a fit and proper person to hold a card on the basis of compelling criminal intelligence.

R16 the MSIC eligibility criteria be harmonised with that of the ASIC scheme so as to make two or more convictions of an individual for maritime security relevant offences grounds for disqualification if one of those convictions occurred in the 12 months prior to an application, regardless of whether either conviction led to a term of imprisonment.

R17 expansion of the coverage of the ASIC and MSIC schemes to capture a greater part of the overall supply chain, including some or all of the following:
• staff at cargo unpacking and stuff-unstuff facilities;
• transport workers involved in the transmission of cargo between ports, airports and other parts of the logistical chain;
• customs brokers that do not access port facilities; and
• human resource staff and management at companies with employees that currently must hold ASICs or MSICs.
R18 Auscheck and CrimTrac work together to develop a database system that enables continual assessment of a cardholder's criminal record in order to ensure that cardholders are disqualified very soon after being convicted of a relevant security offence.

R19 use of biometric information, particularly fingerprints, to establish a unique identifier for applicants for the purpose of maintaining an accurate database of cardholders.

R20 the Australian Government consider the use of biometric information for the purpose of controlling access to security controlled areas in the aviation and maritime sectors.

R21 AusCheck establish memoranda of understanding with the Australian Federal Police and other key law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to allow the timely provision of information held in the AusCheck database to those agencies.

R22 current ASIC and MSIC issuing bodies are replaced by a single, government-run, centralised issuing body.
Those recommendations have substantial privacy implications. They are marked by a an endearing but problematical faith in CCTV, biometrics, photo identity and bureaucratic responsibility shuffling.

Release of the report comes a day after news that Domingo Antonio Urrozsotomayor has faced a Sydney court after being charged with 62 offences relating to forging Commonwealth documents and money laundering. Urrozsotomayor is accused of using a personal computer and printer to forge up to 100 fake ASICs and with representing himself as a legitimate card issuer to cleaning contractors at Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane airports, who paid his 'fees' in cash. During a search at his Prestons (NSW) home after arrest in March the AFP found more than 100 ASIC application forms and 34 forged cards. He later provided "dozens more forged cards" to police.

The Office of Transport Security, responsible for ASICS and MSICs, has been criticised for poor background checks and poor record keeping, with the ANAO finding last month (noted here) identifying concerns about 'security holes' at Australia's air and sea ports due to failings in the card system. A mere 10,000 of the cards were not recorded on the system's central database and there's considerably more rigour at the passenger gate than at the goods gate.

TTransport Workers Union reporesentative Tony Sheldon is reported as commenting that -
We don't know who is doing the work. Just months ago in Canberra, a contracted cleaning company was found to be working for Qantas where only one of the seven guys working had an ASIC - and one of them was working illegally on a student visa