Facial recognition could be used to replace swipe cards on public transport, the New South Wales government has suggested, but the opposition and digital rights groups say it would pose a risk to privacy. The transport minister, Andrew Constance, said on Tuesday he wanted commuters "in the not too distant future" to be able to board trains using only their faces, with no need for Opal cards, barriers or turnstiles. "I'm about to outline some concepts which may seem pretty crazy and far-fetched," he told the Sydney Institute on Tuesday. "But look at it this way – who would have thought in 1970 that you'd be able to use a handheld device to have a video conversation with someone on the other side of the world? "I want people to not think about their travel.
The Department of Home Affairs has labelled a suggested warrant requirement to access Australia's facial recognition database as a "resource-intensive" process that could cause significant delays to matters of national security and potentially undermine law-enforcement investigations. In a submission [PDF] to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Home Affairs said that although it is not clear how often government agencies will use the Face Identification Service (FIS), "it is likely that a requirement to obtain a warrant would effectively prevent government agencies from using the services, or obtaining the benefits of the services, in many cases". The department believes the privacy benefits of requiring agencies to obtain a warrant would likely be "significantly outweighed" by the decreased ability of agencies to carry out their law-enforcement and national security functions. "Obtaining a warrant is a resource-intensive process, both for the applicant agency and for the issuing authority hearing the application," Home Affairs wrote. "The time involved in preparing, reviewing, and granting a warrant application to use services would significantly delay, and in some circumstances undermine, law-enforcement and national security investigations; impede operational activity, including the prevention of criminal acts; and divert resources from investigations."
Move over Face ID, the Australian government has eclipsed you on the creepy factor. It'll allow for photos from government I.D.s and licenses to be added to a national facial recognition database, making it easier for the country's law enforcement agencies to identify people in real time. SEE ALSO: Moscow's facial recognition CCTV network is the biggest example of surveillance society yet The announcement was made on Thursday by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, following an agreement between all the country's states and territories. It will be up and running next year, and the government says the database will help bolster national security. "To be quite clear about this, this is not accessing information, photo I.D. information that is not currently available.