Monday, 14 October 2019 10:56

EFA queries why facial recognition inquiry hearing scrapped

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EFA queries why facial recognition inquiry hearing scrapped Pixabay

Digital rights organisation Electronic Frontiers Australia has expressed concern over cancellation of a public hearing into the proposed national facial recognition database.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security was due to hold the hearing as part of its inquiry into the Identity-Matching Services Bill 2019 and the Australian Passports Amendment (Identity-matching Services) Bill 2019.

A statement from the EFA said the hearing had been scheduled to take place on 18 October, with representatives of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Law Council of Australia, Human Rights Law Centre, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Home Affairs set to appear.

EFA Policy Committee chair Angus Murray, who had been due to give evidence, said: “We don’t know why the public hearing has been cancelled. It is our view that the scope of the Bills dramatically and inappropriately exceeds Australian’s reasonable expectations to human rights protections including the right to privacy and freedom of association.

"It is incongruous to accept that a person who obtained a driver’s licence in, say 2005, would have consented that their licence photo would have been used for anything other than roadside identification purposes. We look forward to hearing when the public hearing will be rescheduled.”

The EFA said there were national concerns around facial recognition, following the news that China had made it mandatory for people to scan their faces before accessing the Internet.

The US state of California has banned the use of facial recognition by police from 2020 onwards.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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