Via The Guardian:
Perth City council is pressing ahead with a trial of facial recognition technology to be installed in cameras across East Perth, despite concerns from privacy experts and local residents.
The network of 30 cameras is set to go live within weeks, amid complaints there has been no proper local consultation since the plans were revealed last year.
The cameras are equipped with software that uses deep-learning AI to recognise faces, count passing people and vehicles and track movement. The council said the system was going through final tests, and was expected to be activated within a few weeks.
The secretary of the East Perth Community Safety Group, Lyn Schwan, said she was not aware of any community consultation about the trial.
“The facial recognition aspect of the new camera network was news to me,” she said. “I feel that the community should have been better informed. Whether residents want to take it further or not is up to them, but we should have been told.”
The chairman of Digital Rights Watch, Tim Norton, questioned whether such systems were an effective tool to tackle crime.
“There is no empirical evidence that supports the assertion that blanket surveillance is effective at preventing serious crime and terrorism either domestically or internationally,” Norton said.
“Australians expect to be able to live their lives without being watched, monitored and tracked, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as more cities expand surveillance operations and place cameras in public spaces.”
In the initial trial, only three of the 30 cameras can use the facial recognition software simultaneously but the capability can move between cameras – which means passersby cannot tell whether facial recognition is being used in the cameras filming them or not.
The council was suspended in March 2018 and is now being run by three state government-appointed commissioners.
The deputy chair commissioner, Gaye McMath, said suggestions the community had not been adequately consulted were unfounded.
“The City of Perth has been open and transparent regarding the trial of facial recognition in East Perth,” she said. “Facial recognition will only be activated upon request from a lawful authority such as WA police, who need to provide the city with an image or series of images of a person of interest.
“There are many additional capabilities of the camera analytics [beyond facial recognition] including providing data around pedestrian numbers, vehicle types and counts, cyclist numbers which will assist planning and urban decision-making such as the placement of infrastructure or enhancing the development of transport solutions.”
The council confirmed that authorities would not be required to provide any kind of warrant when asking for the facial recognition capabilities to be switched on, only to provide an image or series of images of a person of interest.
The trial will run for 12 months and success will be measured by how many times a lawful authority requested the use of the facial recognition capability and how many times a person of interest (which may include missing persons or lost children, as well as criminal suspects) is located. If successful, the council may consider expanding it.
The council did not respond directly to questions about how the data would be stored or who would have access to it, saying only the data would be deleted every 30 days.
Brisbane has also turned super creepy, via the ABC:
Stadiums Queensland has admitted to trialling facial recognition software on sports fans and concertgoers, prompting questions by the state’s Privacy Commissioner about its quiet implementation.
The move means patrons are being monitored in real time, with their biometric data potentially being stored and shared with other agencies such as state and federal police.
While Stadiums Queensland (SQ) venues display privacy warnings about the use of CCTV, there is no signage suggesting facial recognition technology is in operation.
It makes Queensland the third state behind New South Wales and Victoria to trial the mass surveillance technology at its major stadiums.
Queensland Privacy Commissioner Phil Green said the public deserved to be aware their images and data were being captured and encouraged SQ and other similar agencies to conduct a privacy impact assessment.
…Last month, San Francisco became the first major US city to ban facial recognition technology, citing concerns with civil liberties.
Queensland University of Technology research fellow in technology and regulation, Dr Monique Mann, said the roll-out at public venues raised more questions than answers.
“I would be interested to know where the database of images is coming from,” she said.
“Where is the individual’s facial templates? What are they being matched against? How is this information being used, how is this information being stored? How is this information being shared?
“I think people should be informed that their facial images and biometric templates are being scanned and indeed if they’re being collected or what information is being harvested from crowds, and the purposes for which it’s being used.
“The Australian public are not very aware of the extent of information that’s being collected and used about them.
“This technology shouldn’t be implemented without proper public consultation and involvement of the community, and that’s not what we’re seeing.
“We’re seeing the state just implementing it without any input or feedback from the community.”
The Perth tech is Israeli not Chinese. Not sure about Brisbane.
Ban it all.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.