Sources close to the trial said testing of the biometric technology against Passport Australia's existing database of passport information has identified individuals' unique facial biometrics in more than one stored passport. Passport Australia is the agency that issues passports in the country.
The sources said this indicated that individuals may have applied for and been issued multiple passports fraudulently.
However, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to confirm that such instances had occurred. "We have undertaken limited testing using facial biometric recognition technology. Some issues did arise during the tests, and these have been addressed and appropriate action taken where necessary," a DFAT representative said.
The representative declined to elaborate on the issues that arose and the additional action the department intends to take.
The facial biometric--a machine-readable algorithm generated from an individual's facial features--is as unique as a fingerprint. Theoretically, a biometric algorithm generated from photos held in Passport Australia's database should only match a passport once.
Sources close to the trial indicated that Passport Australia was exploring the technology because it believes that searching through photographs manually to find instances of fraud is too human-resource intensive.
They indicated trials of the technology had revealed it was 95 percent accurate.
ZDNet Australia's Andrew Colley reported from Sydney.