Australian Capital Territory says proposed facial recognition legislation exceeds agreement

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has joined Victoria in claiming that the facial recognition system proposed by the country’s federal government violates territorial privacy and human rights laws, The Canberra Times reports.

The Identity-matching Services Bill 2018 and related amendments to the Australian Passport Act set out “broader potential scope for the use of the system” than was agreed to in an inter-government agreement last year, a territorial government spokesperson said, and confirmed that the ACT government would participate as far as that agreement went, but no further.

The spokesperson also said that the ACT government is “focussed on aligning” the Home Affairs-run program with the conditions it established in the inter-government agreement.

Early in the negotiating process, the territorial government ruled out use of the federal government’s facial recognition technology by its Access Canberra services portal to find people with unpaid fines.

Victoria has threatened to withdraw from the agreement, and warned that its territorial laws prevent full participation in the system.

The Information Commissioners of Queensland and Victoria have also called for stronger governance of the facial recognition system than is included in the proposed legislation. The Department of Home Affairs has said that privacy and security concerns expressed are already provided for in the legislation, without requiring a warrant for the system’s use. Criticism of the proposal has persisted, however, with the Law Council of Australia recently expressing concern over mission creep.

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