Biometric legislation increasingly out of date, says Australia’s new privacy commissioner
Rapid changes in biometric technology are a challenge to regulators, while legislative approaches to applications such as keystroke and eye tracking are increasingly out of date, according to Australia’s new national privacy commissioner, Carly Kind.
Kind, a human rights lawyer and founder of UK privacy organization the Ada Lovelace Institute, was named the country’s new Privacy Commissioner last week. Kind is expected to take her place in February alongside Elizabeth Tydd, who has been appointed as the new Freedom of Information Commissioner.
The move was seen as significant as it returned Australia’s privacy office to its original structure for the first time in eight years. Previous Information Commissioner Angelene Falk had been covering both the privacy and Freedom of Information files.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Kind says that biometric technologies are not only used to identify people but increasingly to classify and categorize them based on gender and race, or even emotions.
“I think there’s a real mismatch between how quickly biometric technologies are moving and how well they are appropriately regulated in many different jurisdictions,” she says.
Biometric data is considered sensitive information under the Privacy Act, but limited recourse is provided for citizens if their biometrics are misused. Australia has had a chance to learn from other jurisdictions as it seeks to strengthen its own protections, according to Kind.
Last Friday, Australia’s federal government introduced the Digital ID Bill in the Senate to formally establish and provide a framework for the country’s digital ID system. According to the draft, new powers would be given to the Privacy Commissioner as a regulating authority.
Kind added that her background in civil society rather than the private sector has left her “free of some of the conflicts of interest” that some people working in the data privacy field have. She also added that she is closely engaged in efforts to regulate artificial intelligence in the UK and Europe and through the United Nations.
“I think it’s clear that something in the way of novel regulatory approaches are needed for AI,” she says.