New revelations have revealed Melbourne authorities are using CCTV cameras with facial recognition capabilities across the CBD, while Perth has already begun their surveillance trial.
Both locations have activated the biometric technologies without formally notifying the public of proposals.
Australia’s move towards a biometric dystopia is expanding without consultation with the public.
As we have been covering, police and councils in Australian cities have begun integrating facial recognition systems with CCTV camera networks, as other jurisdictions look to introduce the same.
State governments have been detailing plans to upgrade local regions with advanced biometric capabilities, however new information is emerging that has concerned many privacy advocates.
The report shows that while City of Perth had announced that a trial of would take place, no announcement was made in Melbourne.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman told reporters the force already “utilises facial recognition technology for investigative and intelligence-gathering purposes” across a network of 138 surveillance cameras.
Furthermore, authorities in both cities “did not formally notify the public when it was activated”.
Reports have confirmed that the 12-month facial recognition trial across East Perth had begun, and that government did not have to be informed of the decision to commence:
The revelations come as experts express concern over a lack of regulation and the risk that private biometric data recorded without the public’s consent could be hacked, warning that the move to roll out the technology was “unleashing something really difficult to pull back from”.
The upgrades in biometric capabilities in both locations is all part of a grander scheme of surveillance measures currently being introduced by Australian authorities.
LEGISLATION UNDER REVIEW
So far, city programs are linked to individual databases, but that is all set to change with new plans to connect biometric networks on a national level.
However, the Australian government is also pushing ahead with plans to develop a national facial recognition database, as long-overdue reviews into ‘identity security’ laws are now underway in parliament.
The Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is currently discussing three new controversial pieces of legislation, after state governments unanimously agreed to develop the biometric identification system in 2017.
In October 2017, the Australian government announced a national push for a tough overhaul of current ‘anti-terrorism’ laws at a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra.
In the meeting, state leaders and ministers unanimously approved a counter-terrorism package that “enhances public safety” by increasing surveillance of Australian citizens – including utalising new national facial recognition capabilities to monitor potential ‘terrorists’.
This new system will act as the hub for all data received by advanced CCTV cameras across Australia.
The announcement saw all states and territories agree to hand over driver’s licenses and passport photos for a national identification database, allowing for real-time facial recognition when matched to state CCTV footage, thus bypassing current restrictions on obtaining such information.
The Department of Home Affairs has finally commenced a review of new proposed national security legislation, specifically relating to the agreement between state and territory governments.
All three pieces of legislation will fundamentally shape the underlying guidelines that will dictate the development and management of the new national facial recognition system.
An increasing trend of sweeping legislative changes and broad anti-terror laws over the last decade has already sanctioned powerful surveillance methods for domestic intelligence services.
Moves for biometric facial recognition capabilities a part of a concerning shift in Australia over the last decade, which has seen a rapid shift towards intrusive monitoring techniques.
This has subsequently led to the swift introduction of ‘smart CCTV’ capabilities in Darwin and facial recognition cameras installed in the Perth CBD.
These plans extend across society, with Perth becoming Australia’s second international airport to install facial recognition smart gates, following previous pilot trials at Canberra Airport.
The Australian government has stated their intended goal is to automate 90% of air traveller processing by 2020, and is on track to replace passports with facial recognition capabilities.
Biometric systems being introduced bare a striking resemblance to ‘Social Credit’ initiatives in China, and we have expressed predictions that a similar system may soon reach Australia.
In China, a national ‘reputation system’ has been developed by the government to standardise the assessment of citizen and business economic and ‘social reputation’, based on points or ‘credit’.
Underpinning the agenda, points are lost and gained based on behaviour readings from a sophisticated network of 200 million facial recognition surveillance cameras across the country.
These cameras are part of a network of over 500 active smart city pilots across the country.
Are the pieces of the puzzle finally starting to come together in Australia?
Submissions are still open to be sent to authorities in relation to the new legislative piece by 6 September 2019. Further information about making a submission to a committee inquiry can be found at the following link.
Councils tracking our faces on the sly | The Australian
Facial recognition legislation under review | TOTT News
For more TOTT News, SUBSCRIBE to the website for FREE and follow us on social media for more exclusive content:
Facebook — Facebook.com/TOTTNews
YouTube — YouTube.com/TOTTNews
Instagram — Instagram.com/TOTTNews
Twitter — Twitter.com/EthanTOTT