Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Facebook Photos Could be Taken for Use in National Biometric Database – Officials

Published on October 26, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

The projected national counter-terrorism database could include photos pulled from social media sites, government officials have told Senate estimates

Images harvested from social media sites such as Facebookcould be part of the latest counter-terrorism measures, the attorney general’s department has confirmed.In September, the justice minister, Michael Keenan, announced that the federal government would spend $18.5m to develop the national facial biometric matching capability, known simply as “the capability”.

Under questioning in Senate estimates on Tuesday night, senior officials from the attorney general’s department said that photos could be pulled from social media sites and used in the new system.

The Greens senator, Scott Ludlam, asked: “Is there any law that would prevent the system from ingesting [photographs] from publicly available sources like social media sites?”

Andrew Rice, the assistant secretary of the department, answered: “It’s possible that still images out of these kinds of environments could be put into the system. That would be a choice for the users of the system.”

But he added that it could only happen if users of the capability, such as police agencies, could legally draw on those sources at present.

“Making those choices will be on the basis of their existing legal permissions,” Rice said.

The proposal is for the new system to draw on official photos, including driver’s licence and passport photos, to create a database. Stills taken from CCTV and other sources are of lower quality and therefore more likely to be inaccurate, Rice said.


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