The ABC reports that AI including facial recognition will soon be used in South Korea in a trial to track COVID positive residents. This effort will involve linking an AI facial recognition program to the CCTV surveillance system. According to the South Korean government this is an effort to ease the workload on contact tracing, but this move is worrying from a civil libertarian perspective. Our secretary Michelle Falstein, and Professor Toby Walsh - an AI expert from UNSW - spoke to ABC reporter Rhett Burnie on the issue
“In South Korea it seems that they are allowing, even though they say the faces will be pixelated, for people to be picked out using facial recognition... That would include children, vulnerable people, people that might be subject to persecution. There’s no guarantees unless this is heavily regulated that you are not going to get significant consequences from use of this kind of software. It’s not an authoritarian regime, but its certainly an authoritarian measure.." Ms Falstein explained to Burnie.
'Ms Falstein says civil liberties groups already take issue with the heavy presence of CCTV in Australia, and any move to use AI to track COVID patients in public here would be met with fierce opposition.'
She also commented:
“At the moment the commonwealth is undergoing a huge review of the Privacy Act… when it was first introduced back in 1988, there was no contemplation of any kind of digital privacy issues at all, so we are really unprepared. I think that there would certainly be backlash if a mandatory system was brought into this country in the same way that it will be in South Korea."
Listen to the episode: South Korea uses AI and CCTV to ID and track covid patients