Australian academic recommends privacy protection laws regarding facial recognition use

June 22, 2015 - 

A telecommunications law associate professor in Australia has called for new laws banning the use of face recognition technology to visual images online in an effort to identify people without prior consent, according to a report by

In a paper published in the International Journal of Law and Information Technology, Associate Professor Niloufer Selvadurai states that there has been a lack of laws regarding face recognition technologies, and in particular, no laws which specifically address the issue of unauthorized application of face recognition technologies to online images.

With the increasing popularity of uploading photographs on social networking sites, the paper calls for law and policy makers around the world to see this as a critical issue.

“There is a need to protect individual identity and autonomy through enactment of appropriate laws to countervail the potential threats to privacy posed by the application of facial recognition technologies,” writes Selvadurai.

The article uses Australian law as an example case study, along with analyzing laws and social practices in other countries.

Selvadurai discusses how facial recognition technology could be easily accessible to the general public, while the current approach to the technology is not suitable to the modern digital environment.

When establishing new laws to protect privacy rights from face recognition technology, lawmakers should consider a ‘two-way mirror model of the internet’ in which public and private users are both watching and being watched, said Selvadurai.

“The law should be responsible for creating private spaces within the otherwise public space of the internet,” writes Selvadurai, adding that “it is recommended that a new part be added to the Criminal Code that prohibits the application of face recognition technologies to visual images on the internet so as to obtain information on identity.”

Additionally, Selvadurai emphasizes that there ought to be exceptions to national security and law enforcement.

Selvadurai makes a few recommendations for laws that would promote the protection of online identity, increasing one’s anonymity by ensuring that the individual is “just a face in the crowd”.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.