The Australian government might soon be harvesting images from social media websites such as Facebook in order to prevent terrorism. The news was confirmed by the country’s attorney general.
Last month, Australia’s Justice Minister Michael Keenan made the announcement that the Australian government was planning on spending $18.5 million in order to develop a system of facial biometric matching. The technology is simply being referred to as “the capability”.
The main goal of the technology would reportedly be for the government to put a name and a face on terrorist suspects.
Officials have confirmed that photos will be able to be retrieved from social media websites in order to be used in the new system. However, officials will be restricted based on existing legal regulations and privacy laws.
If everything is approved, the system will also utilize official photos, such as driver’s licenses and passport pictures, in order to establish a national database.
Details for the system are still being discussed. Privacy impacts still need to be considered, and regulators would need to determine what is and what is not allowed.
Additionally, regulators have insisted that the system would not be available for widespread usage.
Meanwhile, the department of the attorney general has started talking with state and territorial police agencies, in addition to the federal departments of immigration and foreign affairs. The department also plans to discuss the issue with privacy organizations. However, members of the public will not participate in these discussions.
Some experts are very concerned about how the proposal is being handled largely behind the scenes. But while citizens are not participating in discussions, officials have said that they want to be very transparent about the issue. They insist that strong privacy safeguards will be put into place.
While the government claims that privacy will be protected, whether or not that is true remains to be seen. The system would apparently not require approval from the Australian Parliament.