Federal facial recognition bill clashes with ACT law

Federal facial recognition bill clashes with ACT law

The federal government's proposed laws for a facial recognition database clashes with the ACT's privacy and human rights laws, according to the ACT government.

It is the second Australian jurisdiction to raise alarm over the bill after Victoria confirmed the federal 'Identity-matching Services Bill' and amendments to the Australian Passports Act clashed with local law.

The Department of Home Affairs is compiling a national database of Australian driver licenses for facial recognition to be made available to security agencies and private companies.

The ACT government welcomed the recent statements by the Victorian government in their submission to the federal security and intelligence committee.

In its submission, the Victorian government raised concerns over the lack of checks and balances over the misuse of the database, granting access to private companies,  the absence of a public oversight body and the risk of people as young as 12 being placed in the database.


"The [bill] goes beyond the scope of the [Inter-Government Agreement] in several respects," Victoria's submission said.

They said if the bill continued as proposed, Victoria would consider withdrawing from the program.

ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur questioned Chief Minister Andrew Barr in the assembly on Thursday, asking if the bill was compatible with the ACT's Human Rights Act.

"Victoria has threatened to pull out of the regime," Ms Le Couteur said.

"Will the ACT pull out of the scheme if the scheme cannot be made compatible with our Human Rights Act?”

A government spokeswoman confirmed the ACT would still participate in the facial recognition scheme, but only on the terms it laid out in the inter-government agreement last year.

"The legislation contains a broader potential scope for use of the system than the terms set in the [inter-governmental agreement]," a spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said the ACT was "focused on aligning" the Department of Home Affair's program with the conditions the ACT placed on their participation in inter-government agreement.

The ACT government ruled out Access Canberra using the system to pursue infringements last year.

The ACT was the sole jurisdiction to initially raise human rights concerns at COAG last year, with Mr Barr placing conditions on the ACT's participation in the program.

Finbar O'Mallon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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