Perth facial recognition technology

Is Western Australia Sleepwalking into 1984?

Before you write in, we know 1984 came and went 34 years ago.

The 1984 envisioned in George Orwell’s novel of the same name has not quite arrived yet. However, if the actions being taken by Western Australia’s state government are anything to go by, Orwell’s dystopian future may be a lot closer than we’d like to think.

Last week The Australian Tribune reported that Perth had decided the city needs facial recognition technology in its CCTV cameras. We were unsure why at the time. And we remain unconvinced of the need for this privacy eroding measure today.

This technology, which may be outsourced to private contractors, can recognise you at a glance. And with a network of cameras in place it can track your every move.

This type of government overreach could be justifiable under martial law. But the last we checked Perth was still a free civilian city. And one of the world’s safest cities at that.

Why facial recognition technology?

So, if Perth isn’t worried about being overrun by terrorists, then why introduce facial recognition technology?

Problem drinkers, of course!

As the AAP reports, the same facial recognition technology is already being used to target problem drinkers in northern Western Australia. And it could now be rolled out in Perth.

According to the state government, alcohol-fuelled domestic violence offenders and repeat drunk-drivers would be some of the people added to the Banned Drinkers Register.

This would see the technology instantly recognise them. Then it would presumably be up to the store clerks to deliver the bad news that the machine’s decision is final. No booze for you!

Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia told The West Australian on Monday that he would consider what the existing technology already provides. He also said he would ‘look towards in the future having something like facial recognition technology’.

This is not the kind of technology that, once implemented, is likely to go away.

Governments, as you know, don’t cede power easily. And there is nothing to prevent the current or future governments from expanding it to include all types of infringements and social engineering experiments.

Is Medicare footing the bill for your diabetes treatments? No sugary snacks for you!

PS: If you’re  more than a few years away from retirement, your job could be at risk of being automated. This free report details the changes ahead. And some steps you could take to ensure you — and your children — are well placed in the age of automation.

Bernd Struben

Bernd Struben

Bernd Struben is the lead editor at The Australian Tribune. Bernd makes use of his extensive network to bring you the top stories you need to know about each day. Stories the mainstream may miss. Or bury somewhere you’re unlikely to ever read them. Bernd studied aerospace engineering and journalism at the University of Michigan, before graduating with a degree in economics. Over the past two decades he’s worked in media, management, and finance in the US, the Caribbean, Europe, and Australia. His other role, as the editor of the Port Phillip Insider, puts him in a unique position to read Australia’s most exclusive financial advice. Some of which he shares with readers of The Australian Tribune for free.
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