Government wants China-style facial recognition tech for Australia
Privacy advocates have issued a warning about a new proposed government facial recognition database, saying: "This changes the nature of the world we're in."
Dubbed "The Capability", the system would match images of people captured on CCTV with their driver's license and passport photos.
The database could be shared with government agencies, police and anti-corruption agencies and, in some cases, private organisations.
"They're going to use this database with face recognition to be able to pick people out so you'll be able to take CCTV footage and be able to automatically identify people," Professor Toby Walsh, from the University of New South Wales, told A Current Affair.
"The government hasn't shown itself to be too competent at looking after our data and if bad actors are out there they could use that data for whatever purposes."
Professor Walsh is an expert in artificial intelligence, and told A Current Affair the technology is similar to surveillance software used in China.
The cameras are the back-bone of the country's "social credit system" which awards or deducts points depending on a citizen's behaviour. If a person's rating gets too low, they could be prevented from doing everyday activities like catching the train or flying.
"A good example earlier this year is in China. A rock concert with 50,000 people in it and the police were able to with this sort of software is to pick out an individual out of the crowd," he said.
The Department of Home Affairs told A Current Affair the services can help protect people from identity theft.
"The Face Matching Services enabled by the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 compare a person's photograph to existing government-issued proof of identity documents to verify an identity," a Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said in a statement.
"The services will help make access to government services more convenient, by removing the need for people to present their documents in person at a shopfront to verify their identity."
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019