Australia considering facial recognition to detect problem drinkers in Northern Territory

Australia is considering using surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology to identify problem drinkers in the Northern Territory and refuse selling them alcohol, according to a report by ABC News.

Police Minister Peter Chandler said the technology could provide an effective and streamlined solution to curbing the region’s alcohol-fuelled violence and crime.

“We have a lot of things at our disposal and we should never look away about emerging technology,” Chandler said. “A person comes in, the camera … or computer software, recognizes who the person is. If they are on some register that they shouldn’t be purchasing alcohol, the fact is the person can’t be served.”

Chandler has denied that the technology is an attempt to return to the Banned Drinkers Register (BDR), an electronic system introduced by the former Labor government that required all customers to display photo identification before purchasing take-away alcohol. Any individuals then found to be on the register were unable to purchase any alcohol.

The Country Liberals Party (CLP) shut down the BDR soon after assuming power in the NT in 2012, arguing that the system did not work.

“The old BDR impacted everybody that went into that liquor store,” Chandler said. “What we’re looking at are ways that doesn’t impact everybody and only those people that… are on some kind of banned register.”

Chandler said the technology could offer a cost-effective alternative to having police officers posted outside liquor stores.

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