Technohacks, Technology

Most Australians don’t care about being on a mass facial recognition database



A large chunk of Australians couldn't give a toss about a facial recognition database.A large chunk of Australians couldn’t give a toss about a facial recognition database.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Last week, the Australian government unveiled its plan for driver’s license photos to be included on a national facial recognition database.

While there’s concern from experts about the erosion of people’s privacy and civil liberties, polling by research company Roy Morgan shows that most Australians don’t seem to care.

Only 32.5 percent of the 1,486 people surveyed via text message were concerned about mass facial recognition technology, leaving a majority (67.5 percent) unperturbed by the measure.

For Tim Singleton Norton, chair of Digital Rights Watch, these results don’t come as a surprise. 

“I think there’s a very low public understanding of what the issues are and the ramifications are,” he said. 

“The other thing is it’s indicative of how the government’s been selling it. The narrative and rhetoric we hear is all about protecting citizenry, about national security, about the viable need for invasions of privacy for a greater good … that’s a narrative people want to hear, because it’s comforting.”

Most of the Australians who say they’re not worried about a facial recognition database said they had nothing to hide. They placed a higher priority over security than privacy, and it follows the government’s line on the issue that the technology is required for national security.



“I’m a law abiding citizen with nothing to hide so why worry?”

“Terrorists need to be caught by any means,” reads one comment. “I’m a law abiding citizen with nothing to hide so why worry?” reads another.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who are concerned by the prospect of a facial recognition database are more likely to be younger. 45 percent of people aged 18 to 24 say they’re worried about the technology, compared to 19 percent of people aged 65 and over.

Must be all that Black Mirror you’ve been watching, kids.

Image: Roy morgan research

Australia’s facial recognition database has been up since last year, but only had access to images from visas and passports. 

The introduction of drivers license photos in the “Face Verification Service,” is designed to allow agencies to match a picture of a person of interest “seamlessly in real time,” according to Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

For Singleton Norton, the biggest concern is these systems could be susceptible to false positives and racial profiling, as has been raised in the U.S. with the FBI. 

There’s also the issue of data security, especially considering the number of breaches inflicted on government agencies, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

So yes, why worry, hey?

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Source : Mashable



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