Australians face a frightening future reminiscent of the 2002 Tom Cruise thriller Minority Report where people are jailed before committing actual crimes, a legal expert has warned.
The advice came as the faces of millions of Australians were uploaded to police in preparation for the introduction of new ‘Big Brother’ facial recognition laws.
Every Victorian driver’s licence has been uploaded to a new national facial recognition database in what is being sold as a tool to help police tackle identity theft and other crime.
Fears over what authorities will use facial recognition technology is escalating Jaywalkers in the lead-up to new laws coming into play. Jaywalkers at a Shenzhen crossing are shamed by having their faces and names displayed on a giant screen
Experts fear ordinary Australians will end up being fined for committing petty offences such as jaywalking or parking illegally
Cameras watch our every movement, but now our faces are being handed over to police in an effort to catch fraudsters. But there is fear our data could be used to catch us out over various other offences
Armstrong Legal national director of criminal Law John Sutton told Daily Mail Australia there was already about 180 pieces of legislation that removed our right to silence.
‘It’s just a massive fear and scaremongering that we can’t manage with the laws we’ve got and we’ve got to legislate within an inch of our lives and we can’t let anyone have any privacy because if so, the good have to suffer because of the few,’ he said.
‘Whatever happened to the old adage of making sure you’ve got the right man: It’s better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man is convicted. The whole concept of that is getting lost in fear and scaremongering.’
Mr Sutton said crime will never be eliminated, but funds to combat it should be spent in more appropriate areas.
‘But not to the point of screwing the population down and removing their individual rights,’ he said.
‘Arguably there’s legislation here that is very much in the way of Minority Report where there’s some sort of conspiracy-type legislation that’s almost thought police. It’s Orwellian in what its powers are,’ he said.
Some experts believe the new laws are yet another attack on ordinary Australians’ rights to a fair defence and a dangerous step closer to United States-like legal hysteria.
In February, the AFR revealed China’s facial recognition system, called Skynet, could scan its 1.3 billion citizens within one second with an accuracy rate of 99.8 per cent, which led to 2000 arrests between 2016 and 2018.
Jaywalkers at a Shenzhen crossing are shamed by having their faces and names displayed on a giant screen, it stated.
Armstrong Legal national director of criminal Law John Sutton believes Australians are losing their right to silence amid a scaremongering campaign
In Minority Report, Tom Cruise played a policeman who arrested criminals before they had even committed a crime by using three ‘Precogs’ that could tell the future. Some believe our society is heading the same way as the movie
Countries including Malta, Malaysia and Jamaica are all installing their own tracking systems and automated facial recognition is planned for the border region of Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland.
In June, Stadiums Queensland confirmed, in addition to the use of CCTV cameras, facial recognition is being used at selected venues – but without any warning signs.
In New South Wales, the transport minister, Andrew Constance, said he wanted commuters ‘in the not too distant future’ to be able to board trains using only their faces, with no need for Opal cards, barriers or turnstiles.
Victoria’s Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings said the new database was part of a national agreement but the state was ‘ensuring the privacy of Victorians is not compromised’.
‘This technology will help keep government agencies ahead of the pack when it comes to combating identity fraud, which is one of the most common and costly crimes facing our state,’ Mr Jennings said.
Barrister and Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said the database could serve an inverse purpose and potentially be hacked by criminals who create fake documents.
‘If you look at the United States where this technology has been used by police for a considerable period of time, there are some problems which have emerged,’ Mr Barns told 3AW.
Facial recognition has long been used at airports. But now our licences have been sent to authorities in preparation for new laws
In Brisbane, City Safe closed circuit television cameras are monitored 24 hours a day and help to deter crime or terror activity in public spaces
Mr Sutton said Australian laws have become an ‘administrative function’.
‘It’s just a revenue collection service,’ he said. ‘People who get (speeding) tickets just treat them as an administrative process.’
Mr Sutton said consorting laws that were introduced to help prosecute outlaw motorcycle gangs eventually trickled down to impact on ordinary Australians.
‘They get used generally on Friday nights and soirees where people gather on the street … conspiracy laws were only going to be used on terrorists and organised criminals, but you know what, it’s nonsense. They get used more broadly,’ Mr Sutton said.
‘And that’s what’s going to happen. All of these laws get brought in for specifics, but they’re not used for specifics. They don’t say “we will constrain these laws so they can only be used against terrorists”.
‘What gives the government the power to suddenly decide they’re going to use these records for whatever purpose they want? Then how long is it before they then use it for tax collecting or parking fines?’
Mr Sutton said Australians should be outraged that their privacy and data have been shared with other government agencies.
‘It’s easy to say “go and have your day in court”, but can you afford it? I don’t know many people who can,’ he said.
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