Australian Commission calls for partial facial biometrics moratorium as APAC countries seek balance

Australian Commission calls for partial facial biometrics moratorium as APAC countries seek balance

The Australian Human Rights Commission is calling for a moratorium on the use of facial recognition in law enforcement and legal systems, pending the establishment of “an appropriate legal framework,” iTnews reports.

In a 232-page discussion paper on Human Rights and Technology, the AHRC sets out its position on artificial intelligence, efforts toward national leadership in AI, and accessible technology. The commission makes 29 proposals, including the one on facial recognition, and poses 9 sets of questions about AI and how to regulate it.

The commission expresses concern about the potential effects of facial biometrics on rights to privacy, non-discrimination, and freedom. It also notes that people under surveillance may fear negative consequences of democratic participation, that merged data used to draw inferences which violate the above rights, and that “emerging evidence” suggests lower accuracy for women and people from ethnic minorities.

Noting that regulation covering AI and facial recognition does not necessarily need to be crafted specifically with reference to those new technologies, the paper suggests guiding principles of transparency, trust, fairness, mitigation of risk, and responsibility for any changes, and points to the OECD AI Guidelines as among attempts to formulate a framework for the technologies along those lines.

A broad consultation is proposed to guide the development of the suggested framework. The commission also says the government should task the Australian Law Reform Commission with an inquiry into AI accountability.

Deployments in Malaysia expand

The use of facial recognition technology continues to expand in Malaysia, meanwhile, with , according to OpenGov Asia.

Malaysia’s government has spent MYR 46.2 million (US$11.15 million) on a CCTV camera with facial recognition capabilities for a safe city deployment in Penang, and plans to install another 150 cameras at a cost of MYR 12 million ($2.9 million). OpenGov Asia also reports at least one organization in the country began using body cameras with facial recognition early in 2018, and the Malaysian Transport Ministry has installed the technology on its public transit system.

In October, Hong Leong Bank (HLB) launched facial recognition authentication for an eToken service for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as Fintech Singapore reports, and an event company has begun using similar technology for check-ins, among private deployments.

Restrictions proposed for Macau government

A bill has been submitted to Macau’s Legislative Assembly to restrict government use of facial recognition on public surveillance cameras, the Macau Daily Times writes.

There is no law governing the use of facial recognition in pubic places in Macau, according to lawmaker Sulu Sou, who brought the bill to the legislature, who contrasted the situation with vehicle plate number recognition, which is regulated. He also expressed concern that law enforcement and other government agencies have not been consistent in their messaging on the subject, with changes in test scope and starting dates.

Sou said he believes the technology can deliver security benefits, but emphasized the need for a balance with privacy, and the importance of following legal procedures. The lawmaker also noted law suits arising from uncertainty legal foundations for the technology in the U.S., UK, and mainland China.

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