Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (19:16): My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and it also relates to the use of facial recognition technology and biometric identity systems, but the action I am seeking is for the minister to conduct an audit of Victoria Police to ascertain which officers have access to facial recognition technology. So while Mr Quilty’s adjournment matter was directed to the Special Minister of State, I believe this is actually something that is of importance to the minister for police as well.
As was recently revealed, Australian police agencies, including the Victorian police, are using a private, unaccountable facial recognition service called Clearview AI. As we know, the system combines machine learning and wideranging data-gathering practices to identify members of the public from online photographs. It is effectively a reverse-image search for faces. Lots of questions surround this, and certainly Mr Quilty talked about this as well, but we do have to raise the questions of whether it is ethical, if it is a breach of an individual’s privacy and probably, more importantly, if it is even accurate.
Victoria Police, until recently, have denied that they were using the service. However, Clearview AI’s customer list was stolen and it was then released, and it was revealed that the Victorian police were in fact using it. It is unclear whether the top brass of the Victorian police have sanctioned the use of this technology, because Clearview offers free trials to active law enforcement personnel, so we assume anyone with a police email address can have access to it.
So if the police in Victoria are going to use powerful surveillance technologies such as Clearview AI, there must be systems in place for ensuring its use in an accountable way. So I ask for the minister to conduct a thorough audit of Victoria Police to ascertain which offices and how many have access to facial recognition technology and what they are using it for.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region