There used to be a time when an Australian could fly to New York and be imbued with the power to predict the fashion and hair cuts that would appear on Sydney or Melbourne streets in the upcoming year. On Thursday, Australia's state and territory leaders agreed to link their systems, and thereby create a national federated database of biometric passport and driver's licence photo data. Far from protecting the electorate's civil liberties -- which, unlike many other modern nations, are not written down and only exist in feelings, vibes, and the whims of the High Court -- the state premiers piled on and were only too proud of the technological terror to be constructed. "In my judgement, it would be unforgivable to not make changes like that when the technology is available, the competence, the know-how, and safeguards are available to effect that change," Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said. Australia in 2017 is a place where the political discourse allows Parliament to abrogate and outsource responsibilities on equality, yet the final step to create a technology-driven system of constant visual surveillance is waved through as routine.
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.
Victoria has threatened to pull out of a state and federal government agreement for the home affairs department to run a facial recognition system because the bill expands Peter Dutton's powers and allows access to information by the private sector and local governments. In October the Council of Australia Governments agreed to give federal and state police real-time access to passport, visa, citizenship and driver's licence images for a wide range of criminal investigations. The identity matching services bill, introduced in February, enables the home affairs department to collect, use and disclose identification information including facial biometric matching. In a submission to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, the Victorian special minister of state, Gavin Jennings, warned that the bill provided "significant scope" for the home affairs minister to expand his powers beyond what was agreed. This includes the ability to collect new types of identification information and expand identity matching services.