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Australian governments continue expanding use of facial recognition


The Australian state of Western Australia is planning to trial facial recognition technology for enforcing bans on purchasing alcohol by certain individuals, The West Australian reports.

A trial will be conducted in the Pilbara region, where high rates of violence have been blamed on alcohol consumption, with vendors informed by the system when a person has been banned from purchasing alcohol as a consequence of intoxicated driving or domestic abuse. Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia said he would like the Scantek system which is currently used to scan drivers’ licenses to integrate facial recognition or something similar in the future.

“The capacity for the system to be customised to meet any requirements there is,” Ches Rafferty, managing director of Scantek said, according to The West Australian.

Opposition politicians warned that it had considered a similar scheme and decided against it, and that such a measure would not be well-received in the Perth metropolitan area.

Preparation begins for driver’s license database

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs will begin loading driver’s license images into its new biometric database within months, and police are being trained on the new Driver License Facial Recognition Solution, The Courier-Mail reports.

The process of linking driver’s licenses to the database could reportedly be completed within 18 months, after which it can be used by police to offer up to 20 suspected matches from CCTV footage. The database can also include firearms, fishing, and proof-of-age IDs, and could be used to identify people who have been in contact with someone carrying a disease in order to prevent outbreaks.

Rights advocacy group Access Now has criticized the Australian Federal Government for its use of biometrics in public surveillance, while multiple state governments have challenged what they say is the expanding scope of the facial recognition systems set out in the Identity-matching Services Bill 2018 and related legislation.

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