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Australian firm halts facial recognition trial over privacy fears

Al Jazeera

Australia's second-biggest appliances chain says it is pausing a trial of facial recognition technology in stores after a consumer group referred it to the privacy regulator for possible enforcement action. In an email on Tuesday, a spokesperson for JB Hi-Fi Ltd said The Good Guys, which JB Hi-Fi owns, would stop trialling a security system with optional facial recognition in two Melbourne outlets. Use of the technology by The Good Guys, owned by JB Hi-Fi Ltd, was "unreasonably intrusive" and potentially in breach of privacy laws, the group, CHOICE, told the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). While the company took confidentiality of personal information seriously and is confident it complied with relevant laws, it decided "to pause the trial … pending any clarification from the OAIC regarding the use of this technology", JB Hi-Fi's spokesperson added. The Good Guys was named in a complaint alongside Bunnings, Australia's biggest home improvement chain, and big box retailer Kmart, both owned by Wesfarmers Ltd, with total annual sales of about 25 billion Australian dollars ($19.47m) across 800 stores.


Clearview AI in hot water down under – TechCrunch - MadConsole

#artificialintelligence

After Canada, now Australia has found that controversial facial recognition company, Clearview AI, broke national privacy laws when it covertly collected citizens' facial biometrics and incorporated them into its AI-powered identity matching service -- which it sells to law enforcement agencies and others. In a statement today, Australia's information commissioner and privacy commissioner, Angelene Falk, said Clearview AI's facial recognition tool breached the country's Privacy Act 1988 by: In what looks like a major win for privacy down under, the regulator has ordered Clearview to stop collecting facial biometrics and biometric templates from Australians; and to destroy all existing images and templates that it holds. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) undertook a joint investigation into Clearview with the UK data protection agency, the Information Commission's Office (IOC). However the UK regulator has yet to announce any conclusions. In a separate statement today -- which possibly reads slightly flustered -- the ICO said it is "considering its next steps and any formal regulatory action that may be appropriate under the UK data protection laws".


Clearview AI slammed for breaching Australians' privacy on numerous fronts

ZDNet

Australia's Information Commissioner has found that Clearview AI breached Australia's privacy laws on numerous fronts, after a bilateral investigation uncovered that the company's facial recognition tool collected Australians' sensitive information without consent and by unfair means. The investigation, conducted by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), found that Clearview AI's facial recognition tool scraped biometric information from the web indiscriminately and has collected data on at least 3 billion people. The OAIC also found that some Australian police agency users, who were Australian residents and trialled the tool, searched for and identified images of themselves as well as images of unknown Australian persons of interest in Clearview AI's database. By considering these factors together, Australia's Information Commissioner Angelene Falk concluded that Clearview AI breached Australia's privacy laws by collecting Australians' sensitive information without consent and by unfair means. In her determination [PDF], Falk explained that consent was not provided, even though facial images of affected Australians are already available online, as Clearview AI's intent in collecting this biometric data was ambiguous.


Are you being scanned? How facial recognition technology follows you, even as you shop

#artificialintelligence

If you shop at Westfield, you've probably been scanned and recorded by dozens of hidden cameras built into the centres' digital advertising billboards. The semi-camouflaged cameras can determine not only your age and gender but your mood, cueing up tailored advertisements within seconds, thanks to facial detection technology. Westfield's Smartscreen network was developed by the French software firm Quividi back in 2015. Their discreet cameras capture blurry images of shoppers and apply statistical analysis to identify audience demographics. And once the billboards have your attention they hit record, sharing your reaction with advertisers.


Australia may offer facial recognition data to telecoms and banks

Engadget

The concerns over government facial recognition systems don't just revolve around the possibility of Orwellian control -- it's that they may share that data with others you don't completely trust. Australia is learning this first-hand. The Guardian has obtained documents showing that the country's Attorney General office is talking to telecoms and banks about testing private use of the Facial Verification Service in 2018. Companies would need to get your permission and would have to show that they're honoring Australia's Privacy Act, but they could otherwise use it to fight fraud or otherwise verify the identities of their customers.


Coalition could allow firms to buy access to facial recognition data

The Guardian

The federal government is considering allowing private companies to use its national facial recognition database for a fee, documents released under Freedom of Information laws reveal.