A Liberal senator says the federal government must push on with legislation for facial recognition technology to prevent Australians losing $2.2 billion each year through identity theft.
The government suffered a setback this week after a parliamentary committee scrutinising its legislation called for greater safeguards.
Senator Paul Scarr said the intelligence and security committee, made up of MPs and senators from both sides of the political divide, did its homework and came back with some measured recommendations.
“The government will be looking at the recommendations of the committee and working with the committee to progress the legislation,” the Queensland senator told ABC television on Saturday.
“There was no intention through this legislation to introduce mass surveillance,” he said, adding that something needs to be done to prevent identity theft, which affects one in 20 Australians each year.
Labor frontbencher Andrew Giles said the legislation would allow the Department of Home Affairs to obtain facial images from state driver’s licence databases.
Mr Giles said this is “more overreach” from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
“The onus should be on the minister and the government to clearly articulate what they’re doing and why,” Mr Giles told ABC television.
He said the parliament is always trying to strike the balance between ensuring Australians are kept safe while protecting privacy and civil liberties.
“It appears no such consideration took place by the government before introducing this bill,” he said.
Australia is not the only country wary of facial recognition technology, with a new survey in the UK finding almost two in three Britons disagree with police using such technology.
The technology uses surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software to scan passers-by in public spaces, using artificial intelligence to compare them to watch-lists of people being sought by police.
The poll by YouGov and commissioned by Britain’s Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, surveyed 2000 British adults.