Adelaide City Council blocks police bid for facial recognition CCTV

The Adelaide City Council has hardened its stance against the use of facial recognition technology in the city’s CCTV network.

3 comments
No biometric prison just yet.
Photo: AJU
The Council doubles-down on a November decision.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA STANDS TALL

Adelaide City Council has once again rejected a push by police to install facial recognition CCTV capabilities across the city, until legislation has been developed to regulate the technology.

At a special meeting Tuesday night, the council sought to clarify the capabilities of its new CCTV network after it emerged this week that SA Police had not provided formal assurance it would not use the technology.

A letter was sent to SA Police in November asking for a formal undertaking that they would not use the facial recognition capabilities “unless and until the parliament of South Australia adopts legislation”.

It prompted a council report later that month, noting: “…it will be the decision of SAPOL whether these [object tracing, facial and number plate recognition] functions will be turned on”.

However, the Council heard on Tuesday that the intent of this motion passed in November had been “understood” by council staff as including the procurement of facial recognition functionality.

Which had not happened.

As a result, the Council now says it has not purchased the software licences to enable facial recognition on its new CCTV network, and has such re-committed not to use the technology before legislation is developed.

“The software that’s required to actually enable facial recognition, and the additional hardware required, was not purchased in the tender process,” said team leader, Sonjoy Ghosh.

Ghosh said there is “no ability for SA Police to turn on the facial recognition without City of Adelaide expressly doing it”, as it owns all of the assets and infrastructure across the network.

“SA Police actually don’t have the keys to the system; we hold the keys to the system.”

Ghosh’s comments followed a motion by councillor Alex Hyde that council had “neither procured nor purchased the necessary backend hardware or software licences required to enable facial recognition”.

A second motion reiterated that the council’s “commitment to not use camera facial recognition technology unless and until the parliament in South Australia adopts legislation or regulation”.

Both motions – which were the reason for the special meeting – were said to be “in accordance with the council decision” in November that sought the undertaking.

A breath of fresh air in a country where facial recognition has taken over.

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OTHER STATES FALLEN

In Australia, sweeping legislative changes and broad anti-terror laws introduced since 9/11 have sanctioned the rise of unaccounted surveillance methods, including the development of vast biometric capabilities for government and the private sector.

This includes a significant increase in the use of biometric systems in Australia, including in CBD districtsairportsschoolspublic transportsupermarkets and more.

Police in Melbourne, for example, already have been using CCTV cameras with facial recognition capabilities across the CBD for some time, while public transport in Queensland and Sydney also have the tech.

Darwin’s ‘smart CCTV’ network has been criticised, while Perth has ongoing surveillance across the city.

Indeed, it seems as if Adelaide is one of the last strongholds to wait until regulator legislation has first been introduced to contain the scope and power of this technology.

Australia’s leading privacy and civil liberties organisation calls facial recognition ‘unnecessary’ and ‘fundamentally incompatible with a free and open society’.

Big Brother is Watching.


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3 comments on “Adelaide City Council blocks police bid for facial recognition CCTV”

  1. Adelaide is supposed to become another “smart city” so this technology will just be a matter of time.

  2. I wonder if a false flag event made be needed to ensure that facial recognition is pushed on through in Adelaide.

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