Why Are People Concerned?
Digital Rights Watch is an Australian organisation that was established last year to help protect the digital rights of citizens. According to the organisation’s chair, Tim Singleton Norton, the new national facial recognition database is “a gross overreach into the privacy of everyday Australian citizens”.
“There is a severe lack of strong oversight mechanisms and general enforcement for human rights and civil liberties in this country, which results in the public being understandably wary about giving government more powers in the first place,” he said.
Singleton Norton pointed to recent data breaches from the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as evidence that the government was “ill-equipped to properly protect citizen’s data”.
“When individuals enter into an agreement with a government agency that includes their personal information, they should have the right to understand, be informed and have a say in where that information is held and what it’s being used for,” he said.
“Whilst we of course must ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the tools necessary to undertake their important work, this should not come at the expense of citizens’ rights to privacy.”
The new system has also been criticised by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. Their president, Stephen Blanks, said the proposal could undermine trust in government.
“It is quite alarming when information you have given to government for one purpose is then used for an entirely different purpose,” he said.