SIMON Corbell says the ACT Government has raised fundamental concerns about how a proposed National Facial Biometric Matching Capability will impact on the community’s right to privacy.
“The ACT raised its serious reservations about the proposal at the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council meeting in Canberra today,” Simon said.
“Most citizens are unaware that the Commonwealth and other state governments are actively working to make drivers licence images available to be searched and compared for a broad range of purposes by government agencies.
“Parts of the Commonwealth Government’s proposal, specifically around facial identification, will give law enforcement and other agencies an unprecedented and extraordinary level of access to biometric and biographical information.
“In terms of the Facial Identification Service, which would enable agencies to match a photo of an unknown citizen against multiple government records, the ACT Government believes that proposed governance arrangements are not sufficient.
“Human rights and privacy law recognises that differing levels of privacy controls are required depending on the type of biometric information concerned.
“This proposal by the Commonwealth leaves open the door for the changing of thresholds that determine what information can be shared, when it can be shared and who it can be shared with. Of particular concern is the prospect that this data could be accessed by the private sector in the future, and potentially for a broad range of matters beyond the most serious of criminal matters.
“As it stands such changes could be made without reference to any parliamentary oversight.
“In this context, it is the ACT’s view that wholesale population level comparison of facial images goes well beyond what is reasonable and proportionate in a free and democratic society.”
The Law, Crime and Community Safety Council meeting brings together law, justice, police and emergency management ministers from across Australia.
“Key issues remain about the development and implementation of access arrangements to this data which have not yet been specifically considered through privacy impact assessments,” Simon said.
“Throughout the development of this project the ACT has highlighted that all jurisdictions must understand and respond to privacy concerns relating to the capability, and we will continue to work with other jurisdictions to ensure that privacy issues are at the forefront of the agenda.”
In regards to the proposed Facial Verification Service the ACT Government supported implementation of the Commonwealth components to begin with.
“This can then be evaluated to inform further privacy impact assessments before the ACT will consider whether to participate in this part of the system,” Mr Corbell said.