Home Government Tech Policy Turnbull to push for national facial recognition database

Turnbull to push for national facial recognition database

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to push the premiers of the country's states and territories to agree to set up a national facial recognition database.

The push will come at a counter-terror summit to be held on Thursday, 9NEWS reported today quoting government sources.

Turnbull will ask the premiers to turn over pictures of all licensed drivers to federal agencies so that the database can be built and used in surveillance cameras.

Russia recently fitted thousands of security cameras across its capital, Moscow, with facial recognition technology to track what it says are criminals and terror suspects.

The technology checks live footage from 5000 cameras against police and public databases looking for wanted people.

At present, Australian federal agencies have access to both passport and visa application pictures lodged by Australian citizens, but the information that is part of a licence is more comprehensive.

The initiative will be known as the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability, and it has been on the agenda of law enforcement agencies for a while.

However, it has faced opposition from privacy advocates as experiences abroad have shown that the technology tends to err in identifying people quite often.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.