Australia adds drivers’ license photos to national facial recognition system

Data from drivers’ licenses will be added to the Australian government’s biometric databases after it reached an agreement with state and territory governments, the New Daily reports.

The $21 million AUD ($16.7 million) national facial recognition system is meant to combat terrorism and secure commercial services, but University of Wollongong IT and law professor Katina Michael warns that the system could associate innocent individuals with serious criminal investigations because of the way it is set up.

“(W)hat you get returned is a number of possibilities … you might get back 15, or 20, or 30, or 50 matches,” she told the Daily, expressing concern that people cleared of wrongdoing would still be linked to investigations in a database despite having no involvement in the investigated action.

At the same time, Michael says, criminals can simply opt out of the database, which is expected to grow to contain facial images of 80 percent of Australians, by not getting a drivers’ license and passport. Michael also warned that as CCTV, social media, and other means of collecting personal information about citizens proliferate, the amount of personal information grows which is potentially accessible not just to governments and commercial interests, but also to criminals.

As previously reported, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for driver’s license photos to be released to the national facial recognition system in October[https://www.biometricupdate.com/201710/australian-government-seeks-to-expand-facial-recognition-system].

Last month, Australia announced that it will pilot a city surveillance system featuring NEC’s NeoFace facial recognition technology.

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