The State of Facial Recognition in Australia

Our guest for this episode is Andrew McAlister, a Data Ethics & Privacy Expert.

Today, Australia stands out as the only democracy to use facial recognition technology to enforce COVID-19 restrictions. The private sector is participating too. Last year, 7-Eleven in Australia collected the facial prints of 1.6 million customers without their knowledge or consent. 7-Eleven was never fined. And now OAIC is opening a probe into Bunnings and Kmart over facial recognition. Privacy advocates say there isn’t much hope looking at the 7-Eleven example. 

Facial recognition technology violates a fundamental human right, the right to privacy. And with facial recognition becoming increasingly sophisticated, it will soon be possible to monitor an entire population with minimal effort. But to what end?

Our guest for this episode is Andrew McAlister, a Data Ethics and Privacy expert, who will help us dig deeper into the state of facial recognition in Australia and explain what the rest of the free world is doing.

We talk about how facial recognition is now used as part of the psychological warfare in Ukraine, how Westfield tracks our every move once we step into one of their malls, and how Telstra’s tools can turn you into a green blob once passed by CCTV. We also talk about the US and EU and how their citizens resisted the use of facial recognition, and finally, we talk about Data for Good and how data can be used to save lives.

00:00:00 Why the Ivy didn’t let me enter their venue (Manal’s story)

00:03:40 OAIC opens probe into Bunnings and Kmart use of facial recognition

00:08:00 What’s biometric data and what’s facial print?

00:10:00 What’s the impact on customers in Australia where facial recognition is not regulated?

00:13:00 What does the Privacy Act say about the justifications for monitoring customers?

00:13:30 What is the second (or secondery) use of data?

00:15:14 What is Mesh technology and how does it monitor all our activities and behaviors in the real world? (scary shit!)

00:16:40 How our behavioral data is being monitized 

00:17:00 Deep facial analytics is the next step

00:18:30 What are the things supermarkets collect about us?

00:19:00 How Westfield track all shoppers activities once they step in

00:20:00 The arm race for collecting and exploiting behavior data in the physical world too

00:21:30 How ClearView is used in the Ukrainian war to identify dead Russian soldiers

00:24:40 Australia is the only democracy in the world to use facial recognition to enforce COVID-19 restrictions

00:25:27 The US federal law banning private facial recognition

00:26:00 The state of facial recognition law in Australia

00:29:00 Is Australia moving towards a technocracy?

00:33:00 Amazon Ring the largest crowdfunded mass surveillance project in the world

00:35:00 Data sharing agreements

00:37:40 What Europe is doing and how Australia can learn from that

00:42:00 Ethics in Technology and why businesses should care about them

00:46:00 Canada and facial recognition 

00:50:00  Data for Good and how it can save lives such as funding cancer research

00:54:00 Dr Gareth Williams and his startup CleanSense and how to use data for good

00:57:00 How to turn into a green blob when passing by CCTV?

00:58:00 Zero point privacy

01:02:00 Andrew McAlister message to technologists and regulators

Join the resistance against the excesses of Big Tech. We are taking back our digital agency and fighting to keep tech good! For young and old and for our collective future.

We want to hear from you. Tune in, and tell us what you think. Email us at Follow us on Twitter: @tech4evil. And if you've spotted Big Tech going too far, use the hashtag #EvilSpotter and mention @Tech4Evil and share your story.

Music and media production by Reinhardt Sosin. 

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