The Australian state of Victoria has uploaded all of its driver’s license photos to the National Driver Licence Facial Recognition Solution (NDLFRS), a comprehensive facial recognition database maintained by the federal government’s Department of Home Affairs.
For the moment, the images in the database will only be available to VicRoads and Victoria Police. The Victorian government has indicated that access will be restricted to state agencies until they are satisfied with the pending Identity-matching Services Bill, at which point other states and the federal government will gain access to Victoria’s records.
The decision is being billed as a test of the NDLFRS system, which is expected to launch nationwide in December. Australian privacy advocates have expressed concern about the new system, arguing that it is too easy to hack and that similar systems have exacerbated biased police profiling in the US.
For its part, the government has argued that the system will reduce identity fraud and make the roads safer by catching dangerous drivers using duplicate licenses to stay on the road.
“This will make it harder for people to conceal their true identities and use multiple licences to avoid traffic fines, demerit points or licence cancellations,” said Victoria’s roads minister Jaala Pulford.
“We are doing this as part of a national agreement, while ensuring the privacy of Victorians is not compromised,” added Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings.
The potential controversy does not seem to have diminished the Australian government’s enthusiasm for facial recognition. The government has been looking to use driver’s licenses to create a biometric surveillance database since 2017, a plan that will come to fruition with the NDLFRS. More recently, Department of Defense Researchers also unveiled a new long-distance facial recognition algorithm.
September 17, 2019 – by Eric Weiss