Every Australian driver's licence to be linked to facial recognition

This has been coming for some time. The trend worries me.


If one has a passport, facial recognition has been done for may years…and more so since the ePassport adoption worldwide. I understand that the facial recognition in ePassports is with many other countries to track/verify an individual’s movements and also prevent various immigration or criminal offences.

It is also worth noting that if one uses Facebook or some other social media platforms, these platforms use facial recognition technologies to identify and map your friend network…even if one hasn’t marked them as friends in their own accounts.

In some ways, the use for licences is a bit behind the times, as they are late adopters.


Within limits. Facial recognition in specific circumstances, in specific locations, with specific individuals, is worry enough. Facial recognition of most of the population, wherever there’s a camera, is too much of an escalation (IMO).

AFAIK, Facebook only has access to images on Facebook (plus associated entities & the public domain). That’s a far cry from government agencies with access to whatever cameras they can find.

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From what I understand is that unless the camera is of high quality and takes a front on image of an individual (say an well face lit individual looking directly at the camera), the accuracy of any recognition algorithm is low. This is why there are many reports of automatic identified facebook friends not being friends as many verified person images are needed to generate a recognition profile that allows other images to be identified. Even with a large number of confirmed images (where one names the individual in the image) the accuracy is high but not perfect.

It has a high level of accuracy however increases when recognition occurs in more controlled environments like at immigration at airports or when looking into a camera for another specific snapshot).

There have been reports of an individual of interest being correctly identified in a crowd of 60,000. This report was a state sanction media release by the Chinese government. Having lived in China, I am a little sceptical whether this is true as there are often sensational reports of things to try and ‘scare’ and create conformity.

It is not to say that in the future there may be sufficient processing power to have instant facial recognition in a crowd of thousands, when one is wearing say makeup, sunglasses, hat and with partially shaded faces.

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Yes, there are limits. Does that justify complacency?

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No it doesn’t.

I take facial recognition say for licences and passports similar to say speeding on a road, if one does the right thing there is no problem. If one chooses to do the wrong thing, then such technologies will potential make it more difficult for one to escape the arms of the law.

Where I have concerns is platforms such as Facebook, Google, Apple etc installing rudimentary facial recognition algorithms to scan uploaded photographs to create connections to add value to the data they keep. Knowing ones social network, even if not disclosed, if a powerful marking tool outputs can be highly persuasive to many consumers.

This is one, along with many other reasons, why we as a family chose not to upload photos to the internet to ‘share’ and also don’t have any social media accounts.


Ahhh, the old “if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” argument.


Don’t disagree the right to privacy, but there are many (almost most) of the community which have no interest in protecting ones rights (as they use social media which degrades ones opportunity for privacy).

I would have more trust in the Australian governments respecting ones privacy as they are bound by their own guidelines, policies and legislation, rather than relying on the privacy policy of a foreign company which doesn’t necessarily need to abide by Australian law if the platform/business is not located in Australia.

The Europeans are trying to deal with this dilemma but recognise that they also have many challenges.

I expect that in the long term Australia will possibly follow similar direction to the US, but regulating non-Australian business is difficult unless there is universal world wide adoption of similar regimes.

It is even worth noting that Facebook has recognised in US senate hearings that it believes that some relegation of privacy/data management has merits. If the US takes a step (personally think it is unlikely to be a significant one if it does as there are many other players other than Facebook which will lobby their own interests), it may trigger countries like Australia to follow suit.


Conflating social media use with government abuse is not helpful. One is voluntary (if careless). The other is not (unless we’re foolish enough to allow it).

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I would suggest it is careless rather than voluntary. There have been recent media reports that most don’t read the T&C for anything one consumes/uses.

It is also relevant unless one believes that the people have no control over government and that government doesn’t represent the people.

Possibly in one party states or under authoritarian rule, yes there would be concerns, but in a western democracy like Australia, the risks are very low that the information will be used by government for misadventure (e.g. provided to others for non-government or free use).

It is important however to have rational discussion on what is happening and any proposed changed to government policy/legislation.

Governments should also be carrying our public interest tests with decisions they make, including like that you have raised. I understand that this is supposed to be standard public service practice, but, not necessarily followed.

In an ideal world, they could also consult with the community before implementing policies/legislation which affects the community.


Of course I could always ask for the camera to not capture my image. A bit like how ‘do not call’ functions?
But I do want it to recognise every one else who might be on a watch list or perhaps whom has just committed a horrible crime and needs to be found out.

The wonders of AI! First used by 19th century London bobbies, “scar on left side of face”, wanted for murder.

Does the alternative regardless assure anonymity for all?

P.s. For the less regulated world, the ABC 4 Corners program content from Monday 6th Aug raised some significant concerns re privacy if it is left to the likes of Facebook to decide.


All public transport in Brisbane already uses facial recognition mapped to drivers licenses.
Prior to this the police rang the the transport company (Translink) and asked where an individual is. Translink then looked in their system and tell the police exactly what train they are on (If the the individual registered their card).
The biggest issue with all is this example, if any current or future politician commits any nefarious act, the “spooks” with have the dirt to blackmail them. This gives them unprecedented power. Whoever controls the spooks, controls the government. I am not a criminal but I object to this invasion of privacy all around us. As an aside, Britain has more cameras then any other nation, yet their assistance in solving crime is in the single digits percentage-wise.


If there are such things as “spooks”?
There may be more realistic concerns?

Do we all see privacy in the same way?
Possibly not.

We have surrendered it in return for how we need to live.
Perhaps more important is how we regulate the use of identity, whether it be for targeted marketing from consumer monitoring or by government?

It may prove more useful if we can focus on the more invasive risks?
I can’t stop my neighbours buying drones or flying them above my house and filming most of what they can see. I may only have a recourse if they choose to publicise what they have recorded.

The champions of the flying car future forbode an even worse prospect.

Neither the misuse of drones or direct invasion of privacy from personal airborne transport are direct consumer concerns. However the use of technology to access private details through recording images and electronic signals for commercial interest may be a concern. These new and emerging technologies provide for a whole step change in risk. Not that any one has invented a van with a camera and wifi sniffer to provide geo-location mapped images to the internet.

I’m still waiting for Google to update their AI to shop my house images and personal contact details out to every painter in town that subscribes to their business model?

Noted it is already possible for a drone to deliver commercially subject to Federal regulations. What will these capture and store on backups for ever more? Hopefully the red tape of our government slows this horror of being buzzed by a neighbours 90db 3am pizza delivery.

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Ah yes… that would be democracy.


It’s rather amusing how they can never agree on laws or common ground, tests, ages, etc between states/territories - but when it comes to revenue raising its a completely different story, all singing in perfect harmony … if only they could do that for the health record ! maybe we need more committees …

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There is a school of thought that equates democracy with mob rule. You might trust your immediate ‘friends and neighbours’ to make good decisions about everything, but when you take the cross section of humanity the outcome is largely uninformed ignorant populism. Democracy, be careful what you wish for how you wish for it.

Especially when the mentality of those put in leadership positions is ‘we won the election and we can do what we want’. Sometimes the concept of benevolent monarchs and benevolent dictators can be tantalising excepting the non-benevolent ones are not easily disposed of; but in a democracy (plutocracy, corporatocracy, et al) there is a chance.

The bottom line in most democracies is ‘we have met the enemy and he is us’ - Pogo, 1970. That quote was originally focused on the environment for the first Earth Day but then found its legs when quality of government was discussed.


This is on the right track. Any form of government requires a degree of trust by the governed. Not to trust that the leaders will be completely honest or diligent (no no no!) but that they will not be excessively corrupt or lazy. This is facilitated by democracy whose great virtue is not in choosing good leaders, because we can never agree on who that is, but in removing the really bad ones, who we can all agree on, without resorting to bloodshed.

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If you own an Apple device chances are you’ve been giving far greater scope to a private company that has no oversight with what it does with the data.

Fingerprints/Facial ID, tracking your spending habits and location. If you think they ever delete that data …

Worth noting all those Facebook accounts that were deleted weren’t the worst thing that Facebook was probably worried about. A Civil disobedience campaign whereby those 16mil accounts started generating bad data would/could be catastrophic (because that data is why the company is worth 600 odd million … it offers a free product!). Nobody is going to pay for corrupt/incorrect data etc.


Carrollcc, I too agree about the unprecedented power. It scares me no end. George Orwell’s book 1984, is still relevant.


In looking as a consumer at political history, the American colonies up to 1791, the French ending in 1799, and the Russian people in the early 20th century took to the streets. The lack of an online connected world ensured these public assemblies that were then so necessary for communication, could so easily turn to physical action on the day. (Noted the first of these was spurred on my consumer actions in response to an over zealous landlord and taxes on key commodities.)

In balancing our needs for security both in the physical world (subject to individual perception) and online world (real in a virtual world), do we risk the benefits of online delivery and personal connection by seeking anonymity?

We need identities to function effectively on line. And no longer is it so easy to just invent an ID for online use. This was one common wisdom from the 1990’s for self preservation on forums.

It may be unreasonable to expect a future in which we will not need our identities or some form of registered avitar. To conduct any transaction or activity!

Is the real shared concern the lack of protections for consumer and personal identity information?
Is it also that there are (subject to individual perception) no protections against how identity related information may be used or revealed to others?

In the future will consumers find the only safe place to share feedback, free from identity profiling, fake reviews, influencers and targeted media productions will be the real world?

What are the real world solutions?

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