Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meet the face of Big Brother in NSW


New South Wales is Australia's most populous state and is going forward with this experiment without the approval or knowledge of its citizens. We have all seen this used in CSI episodes on TV and probably not thought much about it.

Now is the time to start considering the ramifications of this technology. While watching CSI, we think that the database holds only the facial features of criminals or possibly, suspected terrorists. Do we really know who is in that file? I know I have a picture on my drivers license, do you? Is Big Brother preparing to track you and me?

The State Government is quietly compiling a mathematical map of almost every adult's face, sharing information that allows law enforcement to track people by CCTV.

Experts said yesterday few people realised their facial features were being recorded in an RTA database of drivers licence photos that the Government has allowed both state and federal police to access.

The federal body CrimTrac has asked NSW for its database so it can be mined nationally by police using the facial recognition information contained in it.

University experts in facial recognition said the correct match rate was as low as 90 per cent, meaning the names of people with faces sharing a similar structure to criminals could be returned in searches.

Dr Carolyn Semmler from the University of Adelaide said police wanted to eventually use facial recognition in smart CCTV cameras allowing people to be tracked anywhere there was a camera.

Some airports, such as Singapore, employ facial recognition technology and the US is considering using it at border crossings.

"Police hope that at some point an individual can be tracked," Dr Semmler said yesterday.

Meet the face of Big Brother in NSW

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