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Tech alliance unites to condemn new encryption bill

Technology giants and human rights groups have formed an alliance to fight the Australian government’s new encryption bill.

Calling themselves the Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet, the group consists of industry, consumer and human rights groups, who are criticising the government for attempting to pass legislation that threatens the digital security of Australians.

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‘Privacy nightmare’: Concerns over new encryption bill

The Australian government has released details of a new telecommunications bill that grants agencies new powers to access encrypted communications data, including enhancing the obligations of companies to provide assistance and new warrants to covertly obtain evidence directly from devices.

In the following piece, Ethan Nash breaks down the legislation, including historical and technical contexts, details of both major schedules in the drafted legislation, and reasons for concerns associated with the broadened power scope granted.

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Revealed: Facial recognition technology to stay following Commonwealth Games

Queensland Government officials have announced that facial recognition technology introduced for security during the 2018 Commonwealth Games will remain in place indefinitely, but won’t say what future use they have in mind for the biometric system.

Civil liberty campaigners say the refusal to release plans for the installed software amounts to a ‘disturbing development in mass surveillance’, with privacy advocates concerned about how the technology will be used in conjunction with the new national facial recognition program.

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Australian government could allow private firms access to facial recognition data

The federal government is considering allowing private companies to use its national facial recognition database for a fee, documents released under Freedom of Information laws have revealed.

The partially redacted documents released this week show that the Attorney General’s Department is in discussions with major telecommunications companies about pilot programs for private sector use of the new national facial recognition system in 2018.

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Revealed: Details of new Australian national facial recognition system

The Australian government has unveiled new details surrounding highly controversial changes to ‘anti-terrorism’ measures this week, including the introduction of a new national facial recognition system, following the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra last month.

The changes, outlined in draft documents released this week, describe the use of new ‘federated identity ecosystems’ (or ‘identity federations’) to share information between authorised agencies, including the introduction a new ‘trust framework’ system to replace traditional legal processes.

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Facial recognition ‘incompatible with a free society’, privacy groups warn

Australia’s leading privacy and civil liberties organisations have condemned the decision by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to provide all images from state and territory driver’s licence databases to a national facial biometric capability system.

The organisations, including the Australian Privacy Foundation, Digital Rights Watch, Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Liberty Victoria, South Australian Council for Civil Liberties and Electronic Frontiers Australia, have called the comprehensive facial recognition database ‘unnecessary’ and ‘fundamentally incompatible with a free and open society’.

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Premier Hodgman on ‘anti-terrorism’ changes: “This is the new world order”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has assured Australians that national facial biometric matching capability would “only bring existing arrangements into real time”, after the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a suite of new ‘anti-terrorism’ measures yesterday.

As the mainstream establishment continues to dismiss privacy concerns of advocates across the country, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman seemingly showed no reserve in support of the overhaul, declaring “we live in very uncertain times” and “this is the new world order”.

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Queensland announces trials to replace public transport cards with facial recognition

Public transport commuters in Queensland will be able ‘to use their faces as a ticket to board trains and buses’ in the near future, after it was announced on Thursday that trials will commence to replace the current ‘Go Card’ digital network with facial recognition technology.

Cubic Corporation, the company initially behind the ‘Go Card’, will trial the use of biometric identification technology to enable passengers to pay their fares in a ‘seamless, efficient way’, with card-operated gates to eventually be replaced by machines which scan an individual’s eyes or the unique pattern of veins in the palm of their hand.

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Commonwealth Games: Privacy Commissioner slams facial recognition plans as ‘unprecedented’

Queensland’s Privacy Commissioner has raised concerned over plans to use facial recognition technology to identify suspected ‘terrorists’ during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

Biometric identification technology is set to be deployed on the Gold Coast public transport network early next year, including trains, trams and buses at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, to identify potential ‘terror suspects’ before they can interrupt the proceedings.

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Facial recognition to replace passports in radical security overhaul at Australian airports

Australia’s Customs and Border Protection will install 92 facial recognition terminals in international airports as part of an $18 million deal to replace passports with a “contactless” biometric identification system.

The program will see all international passengers processed by biometric recognition of the face, iris or fingerprints, incoming paper passenger cards abolished, and manned stations replaced by electronic stations and automatic triage.

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