Australian Government Claims That Facial Recognition Systems Increase Privacy…

from the even-orwell-would-have-said-this-goes-too-far dept

Via Josh Taylor, we learn of the recently released “Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services”, which is a fancy way of saying that the federal government and Australian state and territory governments had agreed to work together on a big face recognition surveillance system. But the truly incredible thing is that these Australian governments have decided to try to out-Orwell Orwell, by arguing that pervasive facial recognition is actually… good for privacy.

The Identity Matching Services will help promote privacy by strengthening the integrity and security of Australia?s identity infrastructure?the identity management systems of government Agencies that issue Australia?s core identity documents such as driver licences and passports. These systems play an important role in preventing identity crime. Identity crime is one of the most common and costly crimes in Australia and is a key enabler of serious and organised crime. Identity crime is also a threat to privacy when it involves the theft or assumption of the identity of an individual. The misuse of personal information for criminal purposes causes substantial harm to the economy and individuals each year.

That’s… an impressive level of bullshit. As Steven Clark points out… that’s not privacy.

We often see people make the silly claim that security and privacy are at odds with one another, which we believe is generally not true. In fact, there are strong arguments that greater privacy increases security by better protecting everyone (go encryption!). But here, Australia appears to be trying to flip that rationale totally on its head by arguing that the more security you have, the better it is for privacy, because they’ll catch those nasty criminals who aim to do harm to your privacy. But… that’s not privacy. Indeed, it says nothing of how governments, for example, might violate everyone’s privacy with such a system (which is a larger concern than your everyday criminal).

It’s difficult to take such a system seriously, when this is how they approach the privacy question.

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Comments on “Australian Government Claims That Facial Recognition Systems Increase Privacy…”

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15 Comments
TheResidentSkeptic (profile) says:

Convolution of Logic

so, to protect me from Identity Theft, the proposal is to monitor me 24*7 – knowing exactly where I am, what store I am in or what website I am on, and *if* someone else attempts to use my credit info to make a fraudulent purchase in a different store or on a different website, they can block it because they know it isn’t me…

I feel *so* much safer…

Anonymous Coward says:

Let me translate the Aussie slang

Aussie: “These systems”
English: “Recording your face in public”

Aussie: “play an important role in”
English “kind of sort of (and do not)”

Aussie: “preventing identity crime.”
English: “stop criminals impersonating you.”

Aussie: “Identity crime”
English: “Impersonations that happen”

Aussie: “is also a threat to privacy”
English: “are illegal and feel bad”

Aussie: “when it involves the theft or assumption of the identity of an individual.”
English: “Period.”

(Here in Australia we say “Full stop.”)

Anonymous Coward says:

So out of the supposedly ‘free’ nations, where did the invasion of privacy and removal of freedom start? Oh, wasn’t it here in the good ol’ US of A? And as is typical, all the rest of the supposedly ‘free’ nations jumped straight on to the same wagon, removing everything from everyone that these nations are supposed to stand for, that are supposed to make us stand apart from the likes of Russia, China, N.Korea. Seems something is now amiss!

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