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No facial recognition for South Australia Police on planned CCTV network until law updated

Ruling calls for dedicated legislation prior to deployment
No facial recognition for South Australia Police on planned CCTV network until law updated

Adelaide City Council passed a motion aimed at preventing South Australia Police (SAPOL) from using facial recognition via a CCTV network planned for deployment in the city by the second half of 2023 until appropriate legislation is developed.

The move was reported by iTnews, according to which Adelaide councilor Phil Martin sought to remove the decisional power of deploying facial recognition from SAPOL (as described in the original proposal), and place it in the hands of South Australia parliament instead.

From a regulatory perspective, the upcoming City Safe CCTV network project will be owned by the City of Adelaide and SAPOL, and will reportedly cost the Australian Government around AUS$3 million (US$2.2m).

Procurement is underway for a related biometric surveillance system that will incorporate various technologies, including object tracking, facial and number plate recognition.

During the parliamentary session, Martin acknowledged the potential of these technologies to prevent major crimes such as terrorism.

However, the councillor added that any laws adopted by the state should follow the biometric surveillance, facial recognition, and privacy recommendations set by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Law Council of Australia.

For context, AHRC called for a moratorium on the use of facial recognition in “high-risk” settings earlier this year, together with the establishment of a new AI Safety Commissioner.

“It is our business to say this is something that parliament needs to look at, and we as the enabler need to acknowledge that we should stop until the parliament catches up with us,” Martin said during the parliamentary session.

“We have a responsibility to act responsibly, and that’s all this motion does; it says ‘softly, softly. Let’s hand this to the parliament and in the meantime ask SAPOL to exercise that same caution’.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Mary Couros answered Martin’s remarks by saying that facial recognition was embedded in “every single product that has been presented as part of that procurement.”

Because of this, Couros explained, it is proving “really challenging to be able to upgrade our CCTV without having this technology embedded in the infrastructure.”

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