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New tech robs your face of privacy

New tech robs your face of privacy

Under what laws, rules and regulations are facial technology recording systems, and storage of images in databases, permitted in Australia?

There’s no clear answer in one over-riding law or guidelines document, just as strong warnings emerge from the UK that facial recognition “rules” promoted by police there are “atrocious”.

Civil liberties group there claim innocent people, like victims and potential witnesses, could be placed on police watchlists under guidance on the use of facial recognition systems.

Campaigners branded guidance being sent to forces about how to use live facial recognition technology an “atrocious policy and a hammer blow to privacy and liberty in our country”, claiming it could also mean people with mental health problems could be placed on a list if sought by police.

The College of Policing on 17 March 2022 published a guide for officers in England and Wales to make sure their use of live facial recognition technology is “legal and ethical”.

The CoP produced the guide after the Court of Appeal in 2020 ruled that the use of facial recognition cameras by South Wales Police as a pilot scheme ahead of a nationwide rollout breached privacy rights and broke equalities law.

Silkie Carlo, director of the UK’s Big Brother Watch, told the PA news agency: “We warned about mission creep with this Orwellian surveillance technology and now we see that this new policy specifically allows innocent people to be put on facial recognition watchlists.

“This includes victims, potential witnesses, people with mental health problems, or possible friends of any of those people. It is an atrocious policy and a hammer blow to privacy and liberty in our country.

“Parliament has never debated facial recognition or passed a law allowing it to be used. The public wants police to catch criminals but no one wants dangerously inaccurate tech turning our streets into police line-ups.

“Parliament should ban live facial recognition until it has properly considered the extraordinary risks it poses to rights and freedoms in Britain.”

Parliaments around Australia should do the same, CLA says.

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