InnovationAus: Govt mulls facial recognition bill reheat

The Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 (IMS Bill) authorises the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) to create and maintain facilities for the sharing of facial images and other identity information between government agencies, and in some cases, private organisations.

The unusual recommendation to entirely redraft the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 and significantly amend a supporting bill for automating passport data sharing came after expert evidence that the planned expansion lacked necessary safeguards.

The bill was not reintroduced to the last Parliament, but Home Affairs has pursued its planned expansion. NSWCCL has long raised concerns about the need to ensure adequate privacy and human rights protections are in place both in government and the private sector relating to the use of facial recognition technology and data matching services. There are clear weaknesses in oversight and accountability measures. The IMS Bill must include appropriate, legislated boundaries for reasonable and proportionate use of identity-matching services and effective and independent oversight.

Innovation Aus reports that Home Affairs spokeperson said amendments to address the PJCIS recommendations were made and referred back to the Committee in 2020. But a spokesperson for the PJCIS confirmed this week no subsequent inquiry has ever occurred.

It now falls to the Albanese government with Home Affairs minister Clare O’Neil and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus to resurrect the plan.

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