So much for ‘professionals in their related field.’
Thanks to Australian-based research, the foreign affairs department has now placed a mandate on their passport officials which requires them to pass face-matching skill tests. Analysis found their professionals to be, at best, average, at detecting fake passports compared to an individual with absolutely no training in the field. In fact, both trained and untrained university students in the area of detecting a fake passport, scored a 10% error rate at corresponding an individual to their picture.
Following the first statistics of the report which were revealed in 2009, DFAT, also known as the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, have been in the process of making an array of revisions and modifications to their training process to ensure the best possible outcome with relation to their official’s facial recognition abilities.
“All staff recruited to jobs in the passport office that involve facial recognition now undergo face-matching aptitude tests as part of the selection process,” says DFAT. The department has, in turn, created a committed force of facial recognition specialists since the study.
“Subsequent testing on these staff has shown they are highly accurate in face-matching tests,” they said.
Part of the research which was made public via the scientific periodical PLOS ONE, released on Tuesday, August 19, 2014, officials working with passports were asked to determine whether a person’s picture on a computer corresponded with the face of a person positioned in front of their counter.
Dr. David White, lead author from the University of NSW was surprised to find that the passport officials executed their task at the same level of accuracy, if not worse, than the students, even though the officials were highly trained and experienced.
14% of the tests revealed, officials were able to correspond a person’s face in front of them, to a deceptive picture and, inaccurately rebuff 6% of legitimate photos.
“They made a large number of errors, just like the university students we tested,” Dr. White said.
Passport officials were also tasked with corresponding current pictures to photos taken two years prior. Mistake rates on this test increased 20%, the exact same as the students.
Examiners believe an individual passport photo may not be a significant tool to detect fraud or legitimacy, suggesting a more valuable and successful process might be to take a number of photos at distinct angles with acceptable lighting.
DFAT, who says: “Australian passports are fully compliant with ICAO standards,” confirmed that requirements for passports are regulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which includes lighting and view point of photos.