Australia, CCTV, face, surveillance

Australia changes privacy law regarding criminal investigations

Federal Government removes ban on biometric data used for crime-fighting

The Gillard Government’s new privacy legislation has removed the ban on biometric data being handed to crime-fighting agencies.

Officials say the move could be of immense benefit in fighting crime, but privacy lobbyists liken it to a “Big Brother” development.

The Attorney-General’s Department yesterday revealed police would be able to ask private companies – including shops, pubs and clubs – to hand over patrons’ facial scans.

“These changes will allow, for example, a pub to pass on to police a face scan of someone involved in a glassing attack,” a spokeswoman said.

“Or, police could ask a government agency to help them identify an alleged murderer through matching an image obtained via CCTV (closed circuit television) with client photos.”

Note: “Facial scan” is another term for “Photo.”

If the police can’t ask for evidence helpful in solving a crime, why have police (or privately owned CCTV cameras) in the first place?

Biometric technology, like all analytic tools, works both ways. It can eliminate suspects as well as indicting them.

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