The Sydney Morning Herald published an Editorial Titled “Rare bipartisan consensus on right to privacy” today. It reads in part:
The democracy protests in Hong Kong are a daily reminder of how oppressive regimes abuse new face recognition and profiling technologies.
Hong Kong authorities are ruthlessly applying them to central databases of personal information and biometric data in their pro-Beijing crackdown. They capture images of the activists on ubiquitous closed circuit television cameras and then use facial recognition technology to identify them. They can even track the activists on public transport by capturing information when they swipe their personal transit cards.
This should be a warning to Australia to make sure that we offer much greater protection to civil liberties and privacy as we consider how to apply the technology here.
Judging by a report of the joint federal parliamentary committee on intelligence and security, however, the risks are not yet adequately understood by some in government.
No one is saying that the technology should not be deployed more widely and shared between governments and agencies. Using face and voice recognition technology, the database could identify individuals all across Australia to help catch criminals and terrorists and prevent identity fraud. It could also streamline bureaucratic procedures for establishing your identity.
But without the right safeguards, the system could trample on the right to privacy and invite the Black Mirror-style dystopia now playing out on Hong Kong’s subway.
The committee has called for the bill to be rewritten taking into account “privacy, security and subject to robust safeguards”.
The bright side is that both major parties have backed the committee’s report calling for a new approach that better protects the right to privacy. This is about fundamental values which should be above partisan politics.
This is a hilarious article to me because why should it take such a swipe at Hong Kong. The Hong Kong police have been restrained beyond comparison. In any other locale in the world, should protesters riot and attack police as they have done in Hong Kong, there would have been an overwhelming response.
In any case, I always felt this reference to private to be a false flag political feel-good not-to-do about nothing.
So there is a legitimate use for surveillance and detective work right? Of course! I mean for god’s sake, if not, Sherlock Holmes is probably the biggest violator of privacy rights in human history!
I find it so fanatical that people in the U.S. would justify gun rights on the ground that it gives them leverage against the all-powerful state.
Really? If you are talking about real power, guns ain’t going to tilt the balance in any meaningful way. The State always have access to bigger guns. They always have tanks, bazookas, planes, bombs … including nuclear bombs. You might as well rely on stones and knives if you really are talking about balance of power against the state.
If people are really serious about right to privacy – as a real right, not politically correct gobbledegook – this is what you ought to advocate in light of Hong Kong!
Forget surveillance cameras! All citizens must be properly equipped with the means to escape the prying eyes of the State. In light of the Hong Kong protests, what Australia must do is a law to buy and give a laser to every Australian citizen and teach each and every man, woman, and child how to use these laser to blind the potential prying eyes of the police. This is the only way for true democracy and freedom to prosper. Until this happens, the people cannot be considered free or safe. No decent democracy can be called a democracy when citizens can fall victim to the prying eyes of the State (including the police!) at any moment’s notice!