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FACTDROP: Facebook photos for spy files
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10/30/2015

Facebook photos for spy files

Attorney-General George Brandis. Picture: AAP

Πηγή: The West Australian
By Nick Butterly
30 Oct 2015

Facebook pictures and images from State driver’s licences and passports could be collected in a Federal database to help police and spies find their targets.

Privacy advocates have rung the alarm bell over the plan, warning it smacks of a nightmarish science fiction plot that could ultimately lead to Australians being monitored wherever they go.

During a recent Senate hearing, officials from the Attorney-General’s Department gave an update on the system National Facial Biometric Matching Capability.

The department hopes to gather all passport photos in government databases as well as State driver’s licence pictures for a gargantuan repository of images of Australians.

The photographs could then be run through facial recognition programs to find subjects of interest.

Under questioning, bureaucrats admitted that social media images could be “scraped” from the web and sucked into the database. “It is possible that still images out of those kinds of environments which you talk about could be put into the system,” Attorney-General’s department official Andrew Rice told the hearing.

“That will be a choice for the users of the system, and their making that choice will be on the basis of their existing legal permissions.”

Department experts were unable to say how serious a crime would need to be to allow police or agencies to use the database to search for a suspect.

“Will you be able to chase down a litterer, for example,” Greens WA senator Scott Ludlam asked officials.

Attorney-General George Brandis told the hearing the Government needed no legislation to create the system.

Senator Ludlam questioned what safeguards would be in place to ensure the system was not abused. “The National Facial Recognition Database — referred to internally by the ominous title “the capability” apparently without any sense of irony — is the next step in our self-proclaimed freedom-loving Government’s project to make a dystopian sci-fi surveillance state a reality in Australia,” he said.

The hearing was told the only other country that had attempted to compile so many images of citizens from different sources was Brazil. Officials said the program they were building was more “complex” than those administered even by giant US agencies such as the FBI.


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