Australian Government Faces Scrutiny Over New Facial Recognition Measures

Any new proposal signed by politicians related to facial recognition technology will be met with a lot of scrutiny. Consumers are slowly becoming more privacy-aware, which means they will not respond kindly to any invasive measures whatsoever. Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has claimed his country’s automated face-matching regime under anti-terrorism rules will not invade individuals’ privacy. His country’s citizens are hardly convinced that is the case, though.

Australia Sets a Disturbing Facial Recognition Precedent

No one should be surprised to learn that the Australian population is not too pleased with the new set of rules put together by the government. Under these new guidelines, federal and state police will gain full and real-time access to passport, visa, citizenship, and driver’s license images. These images will be utilized by facial recognition technology to identify wanted individuals under criminal investigation. Additionally, these images may help in identifying potential terrorism suspects. The agreement came to be due to approval from the federal, state, and territory leaders of the country.

This facial biometric matching agreement has received a lot of feedback from day one. Not all of this feedback was overly positive, although that is only to be expected. While Prime Minister Turnbull claims the Australian government has no “Big Brother” intentions whatsoever, the general public feels this new measure is far too invasive and puts excessive power in the hands of law enforcement agencies, which can seemingly use this information as they see fit.

A lot of people are understandably concerned that the new measure will eventually lead to mass surveillance in Australia. Turnbull claims surveillance of any kind is not on the agenda as far as this proposal is concerned, although it remains to be seen whether that will be the case. There are so many potential privacy implications here, people no longer know what to think right now.

While it is true that law enforcement agencies occasionally share database information to confirm offenders’ identities, these procedures are clunky at best. With a new era of technology upon us, some major changes had to be made sooner or later. Whether or not things had to get to this level remains to be seen, though. Giving private companies access to such databases – assuming they receive governmental approval – is not something most people are looking forward to by any means.

Some will see this program as the technological enhancement it is designed to be. Others will see it as a new attempt by the Australian government to invade consumer privacy and claim it to be an anti-terrorism effort. The new measure will be put in place before the Commonwealth Games of 2018, as increased surveillance is allegedly meant to improve public safety. There will always be a trade-off between safety and invasive technology, at least until new solutions can be created.

For the time being, there are no plans to enforce the new program over the coming months. While the public outcry is not necessarily something the government was looking for, they understand people are concerned about what all of this means. Finding the balance between security and privacy is not easy these days, despite having some really powerful technology at our disposal right now.