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Majority of Aussies Support Australian Tax Office, Medicare and Banks Using Biometrics to Protect Personal Records, According to Unisys Research

New research shows Australians exercise discretion about when the use of biometrics is appropriate for proving their identity


Julian Brophy, Perception Partners, + 61 408 276 749


Claire Hosegood, Unisys, + 61 411 253 663


SYDNEY, 18 November, 2010 – At least three-quarters of Australians surveyed say they would not object to Medicare and the Australian Tax Office using biometrics, such as voice pattern recordings, fingerprints and iris scans, to prove their identity when they access services, according to new national research released today by Unisys.

The research, conducted as part of the latest Unisys Security Index™, examined the willingness of Australians to use biometrics to verify a person’s identity in different scenarios with various organisations.

“Clearly Australians are showing discretion about what circumstances they feel warrant the use of biometrics to prove their identity, and which organisations they support using it - such as banks and government departments,” said Allen Koehn, Vice President, Public Sector, Unisys Asia Pacific.

“The Unisys Security Index research found that more than half the Australian population is willing to use voice recordings, eye scans or fingerprints to prove their identity to access bank records (69 percent), health records (68 percent), welfare payments (63 percent) and to access tax records or submit tax returns (65 percent). But fewer Australians supported the use of biometrics to enrol in education classes (36 percent), join a club (34 percent), or board public transport (29 percent),” Mr Koehn explained.

Percentage of Australians who said they would be prepared to use a biometric to prove their identity in the following scenarios:

To access bank accounts – 69%

To access health records – 68%

To access welfare payments and information – 63%

To access tax records or submit tax returns – 65%

To access buildings – 53%

To access and pay everyday bills – 51%

To enrol in education classes – 36%

To sign up to join a club – 34%

To access public transport – 29%

“These findings suggest that support for biometrics varies depending on how critical people feel it is to prove their identity to access a particular service or to protect the personal information associated with that service. For example, most Australians are willing to use biometrics when accessing sensitive financial or health records but not supportive of using it to facilitate entry to a club or public transport,” Mr Koehn said.

“According to our research, the other key factor in determining acceptance of biometrics is which organisation would have access to the information. There is a clear divide between those organisations which people are willing to trust with their biometrics with and those that they are not.

“Medicare (81 percent), the Australian Tax Office (75 percent) and banks (67 percent) are the top three organisations trusted by Australians to access their biometric information to verify their identity. The research found that government organisations in general were more trusted than commercial organisations – other than banks,” he said.

Percentage of Australians who said they would allow the following organisations to access their personal biometric information from a centralised body for identity verification:

Medicare – 81%

The Australian Tax Office – 75%

Your bank - 67%

Other government departments you have dealings with 55%

Other commercial organisations you have dealings with 18%

None \ don’t know – 12%

“The research shows Australians don’t support the use of biometrics in situations where they don’t believe it is required. That’s why Unisys advocates community awareness and education programs around security, identity and biometrics initiatives. The high support for banks and government agencies indicates that lessons could be learned from their approach,” Mr Koehn said.

About the Unisys Security Index

The Unisys Security Index is a bi-annual global study that provides insights into the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security related issues. Conducted in Australia by market research firm Newspoll, the Unisys Security Index provides a regular, statistically robust measure gauging levels of concern about various aspects of security. The survey on which the latest Australian Unisys Security Index is based, was conducted nationally between 17-19 September 2010 by Newspoll using a nationally representative sample of 1,202 respondents aged 18 years and over. All results have been post-weighted to Australian Bureau of Statistics data. The study measures consumer perceptions on a scale of zero to 300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern. For more information on the Unisys Security Index including additional resource material visit: www.unisyssecurityindex.com.au.

About Unisys

Unisys is a worldwide information technology company. We provide a portfolio of IT services, software, and technology that solves critical problems for clients. We specialise in helping clients secure their operations, increase the efficiency and utilisation of their data centres, enhance support to their end users and constituents, and modernise their enterprise applications. To provide these services and solutions, we bring together offerings and capabilities in outsourcing services, systems integration and consulting services, infrastructure services, maintenance services, and high-end server technology. With approximately 23,000 employees, Unisys serves commercial organisations and government agencies throughout the world. For more information, visit www.unisys.com.

About UnisysAsia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, Unisys delivers services and solutions through subsidiaries in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan and through distributors or resellers in other countries in the region. Visit www.unisys.com.au.
Follow us on www.twitter.com/UnisysAPAC.


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