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Facial Recognition (Here To Stay?)


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Commonwealth Games: alarm at plan to use facial technology to spot terror suspects


Queensland’s privacy commissioner says proposal would represent unprecedented example of ‘predictive policing’


Queensland’s privacy commissioner has sounded an alarm over a plan to use facial recognition technology to pick out suspected terrorists during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

The commissioner, Philip Green, said the proposal would represent an unprecedented example of “predictive policing†with parallels perhaps only in China and Russia. Problems including inevitable false matches would also have to be overcome, he said.


Queensland assistant police commissioner Peter Crawford said police and “security partners†were considering facial recognition technology during the games but no decisions had been made.

The issue was reportedly to be raised by the federal government in discussions with the states on Friday.

News Corporation reported that the technology was set to be rolled out on the Gold Coast’s public transport network “to identify potential terror suspects before they can get close to any sporting or public venueâ€.

The technology, which would link to Gold Coast city council’s extensive CCTV camera network, would be monitored around the clock by security personnel, the report said. The aim was to identify suspects in crowds and have the military or police intercept them before they could get close to events.

“This technology is constantly evolving. No decisions have been made regarding how and where this technology will be deployed. It is not appropriate to publicly discuss this security strategy further at this time,†Crawford said.

Worldwide incidents such as the Manchester terrorist attack were informing Games security planning, he added. Games officials, police and commonwealth agencies met in Canberra on Friday to review the implications of the attack.


Facial recognition is already used by Australia’s Border Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which matches faces, including at airports, against images from Australian passports and a larger database of foreign visitors, which is said to contain more than 100m records.

Green said this system would be the first line of defence against foreign terror suspects.

The Gold Coast proposal would presumably involve the CCTV network, screening crowds to match faces against a database of suspects from security agencies.

“Excluding them or targeting them in a predictive policing mechanism brings with it its own issues,†Green said.

At present, state police, in cooperation with the Australian federal police, can manually perform facial recognition matching pictures they take of people of interest against their databases. The issue is with an “automated process that uses algorithms to send up a flagâ€, Green said.

“That’s scary stuff because it’s predictive policing and preventive and the false positives mean people get profiledâ€, possibly by racial appearance or cultural dress, he said.

“[Facial recognition for terrorist screening] is theoretically possible and they should be looking at it. But frankly there’s a false-positive problem with facial identification, it’s not 100%.â€

The risk of rapid-deployment police squads preemptively tackling people who turn out to be innocent parties would be of concern to games organisers, Green said. “Obviously there’s a tradeoff with security and public safety at big events.â€

UK authorities have used facial recognition to identify a specific wanted person in a particular area but Green said he was unaware of law enforcement anywhere using an automated facial recognition network to screen for suspects, except perhaps in “China, Russia, maybe North Koreaâ€.

“It’s one thing looking for someone who has a warrant out for their arrest, versus one who might profile as someone who’s at risk,†he said.

The examples of private companies using automated facial recognition for targeted advertising showed “the technology exists, but there’s definitely an issue with accuracyâ€.

Green said the Queensland government should perform a “proper privacy impact analysis†before signing up to the plan.

The proposal comes in the context of a broader suite of federal programs around identity verification technology that are yet to be agreed upon, including a bid to link state and territory driver licence databases.



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Orwellian, but more Orwellian than Orwell could have imagined given the advances of technology.


On the other hand, I haven't seen any press photos, of terrorists that look like a blonde adonis, well not since Nazi Germany anyway...

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I didn't realise that terrorist / potential terrorists were registered for Tax Purposes


Joking aside, I personally don't give a hoot about Facial Recognition / Social Profiling / Voice Recognition etc, they are non intrusive measures that should be deployed as and when authorities feel the need.

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On the basis that if I haven't done anything wrong I have nothing to fear, it's all good.


But as cash has almost disappeared from some countries, how easy is it to cut someone off because they have the same name as someone else or the woman at the computer is having a bad day?


If my kids got blown up I'd be identifying everyone with a beard, women included, in a 10 mile radius as being the perps.

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