Civil Liberties Australia Vice President Rajan Venkataraman said there had been “very little transparency, and even less public debate” about the technology involved in a massive enhancement of automatic number plate recognition across WA.
WA Police Minister Paul Papalia described the 100 new automatic number plate recognition cameras as a “ring of steel”.
But the CLA VP pointed out the minister and the government had not legislated any safeguards around storage, use or abuse of the images.
“For example, how and where are the images and data stored, under what circumstances may it be shared, what recourse is there for people who feel their private data has been misused and what penalties apply where unauthorised access or misuse of data is established?” he said.
“If there is very little transparency about how police surveillance systems operate and are used, there is even less transparency about how people’s data are captured, used, stored, accessed and shared by shopping centres and other private sector entities.
“With all this in mind, reference to ‘a virtual ring of steel around the state’ is chilling.”
Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch said police already had mobile and stationary cameras, both hidden and visible, as nearly 80% of crime involved a vehicle.
“We need to help people and save their lives. There’s been numerous examples of where this technology in the last 18 months has saved lives and solve serious crimes,” he said.
“Examples like a child sex offender who had broken his ankle bracelet, his electronic monitoring bracelet, and had tried to flee the state. It was ANPR technology that caught him before he left WA and escaped.”
Mr Venkataraman said there was no scrutiny by Parliament and no debate about how adequate or appropriate the rules were.
“In the absence of this public debate, we can’t take seriously the assurance (that) the public supports the use of this technology,” he said.