Reacting to the screening of an investigative program by the ABC on Monday night about the way Uighurs were treated by Beijing, EFA chair Lyndsey Jackson said in a statement that the program had shown that Australian universities, researchers and technology firms were collaborating with oppressive regimes to use facial recognition against vulnerable groups.
She said people may not be aware that similar systems were being installed in Australia. As an example, Queensland Police had used facial recognition during the last Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast, saying it was used to protect against terrorism.
But soon after, the same system was used for general policing, Jackson said. "Stadiums Queensland continues to use facial recognition at its venues. Perth council is pushing ahead with its own facial recognition trial despite opposition from local residents," she added.
“We see the same language being used in Australia as used by the Chinese government”, she said. “It’s justified as being about terrorism, but that’s just a word used to stop people thinking about what’s actually going on. It’s really about using state power to abuse vulnerable groups.
“And it’s all happening without any community consultation or debate. These systems are just being imposed on us, in secret.”
Some jurisdictions, like San Francisco in the US, had already banned the use of facial recognition systems, Jackson noted.
“With the Australian Government already going so far as to raid journalists for exposing government misdeeds, and refusing to rule out prosecuting them for crimes, it’s easy to see how these systems will be abused," she said.
“Australians should immediately call for all facial recognition systems in Australia to be removed. All facial recognition projects should be halted, and no more should be started.
“We’ve already gone much too far with mass surveillance in Australia. Australians need to stand up for their own privacy and freedom and say 'No More'.”