Privacy Losses Alarm As Biometric Identification Explodes Worldwide

Monday, December 10, 2012
By Paul Martin

Cops’ bid for biometrics

Natasha Bita
December 09, 2012

BIOMETRIC facial scans taken for passports, drivers’ licences or nightclub entry can now be stored in police and spy agency databases, under changes to Australia’s privacy laws.

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, although privacy lobbysists liken it to a “Big Brother” development.

The Attorney-General’s Department revealed that police will be able to ask private companies – including shops, pubs and clubs – to hand over their 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 told News Ltd.

“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.

“The spokeswoman said the Privacy Act would “not compel” any company or government agency to hand over biometric data to law enforcement bodies.

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