Queensland will become the fourth state to upload its repository of driver’s licences to Australia’s controversial facial recognition database.
Queensland will join Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania as the next state set to upload its batch of driver’s licences to the national database, according to iTNews. The remaining states and territories are expected to follow in the next two years.
The government database, known as National Driver Licence Facial Recognition Solution (NDLFRS), is designed to prevent identify theft, crime and improve identity verification. While the system, sometimes referred to as ‘The Capability’, is not yet operational, it’s expected that it could be used to match faces to confirm identities as well as determine unknown faces in video footage.
A beta site for IDMatch highlights the extent of its proposed usage — a one-stop shop for identity verification — but explains it cannot detect faces with real-time monitoring or live footage.
“Law enforcement agencies can use the services to identify a person or detect people using multiple fake identities – but only under strict conditions,” the government’s beta site reads.
“In most circumstances, the Identity Matching Services will be used to verify your identity based on your consent.”
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The system, agreed upon by the states and territories in October 2017, is set to have two components — Face Verification Service (FVS) and Face Identification Service (FIS).
The first of those allows the system to verify a person is who they say they are by matching their face against the database. The latter helps match an unknown face against the database to determine their identity in the case of a crime.
In October 2019, a senate inquiry tabled a bill that would see the database used in real-life scenarios, citing some ambiguities around the system’s privacy, transparency, governance, and user obligations.
At the time, privacy advocacy group, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), was pleased with the inquiry’s decision explaining complex system like the national facial recognition database needed more input and consideration from the public before being put into law.
“We’re pleased that the government is listening to civil society’s concerns,” EFA’s chair, Lyndsey Jackson, told Gizmodo Australia.
“These issues aren’t easy to navigate, and governments are trying to find solutions to complex problems, but it’s important to listen to civil society, to take the time to understand the technology in detail, and to ensure that our rights in a liberal democracy are protected.”
For now though, the database will need a new bill to pass parliament in order to outline the terms of its usage. No bill has been introduced as yet.
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