Facial recognition: Feature creep may impose government's software in our lives, expert warns

It's known as 'The Capability' — government facial recognition software to match CCTV footage to passport photos. But new measures to give it access to drivers' licences have surveillance experts worried about what might come next.

Instant facial recognition software used for counter-terrorism could be used on the general public one day if the rules around the use of the software keep changing, a surveillance expert warns.

The ACT Government had this same concern with — though it has still signed on to the changes.

The territory's Attorney-General, Gordon Ramsay, said the ACT Government would continue negotiations on the biometric capability of the facial recognition software, known as The Capability, which matches faces from CCTV footage to passports — and with them, all of a person's associated data.

COAG has agreed to add drivers' licences to that system, and to speed up the week-long process, making The Capability instant.

But the ACT has asked for assurances that data will only be used outside of counter-terrorism when the Capability returns a perfect match.

It was the only jurisdiction that raised privacy concerns .

"One of the things that we would always be looking to is the access and the way that information can be used, they will be part of the ongoing negotiations," Mr Ramsay said.

'Before we know it…': worries over feature creep

But surveillance expert Professor Katina Michael pointed to an established trend of technology creeping up in scope and said The Capability would be no exception.

She expected the system to slide down a slippery slope of privacy erosion, eventually being used for petty crime, civil cases and a whole range of purposes unrelated to terrorism.

"It's a farce," she said.

"Before we know it'll be used for breath tests and speeding, it will be used to open a bank account … licences are our primary ID — so does that mean everywhere we've been using them for identity, all the clubs and pubs, will have access to it?

"Even car insurance — [people will think] 'we are using it for drivers' licences, maybe we should also use it for third-party compulsory insurance. And then we need it for health insurance'."

Your face 'may end up on some third-party selling list'

Ms Michael was equally concerned about systematic errors causing potential mistaken identities and leading to people being wrongly accused or suspected of crime.

"It's not going to take long for these systems to be hacked, no matter what security you have in place and once it's hacked, that's it — everyone's facial images will end up on some third-party selling list and possibly on the internet for accessibility."

"Yeah, people put photos on Facebook, but not in that kind of systematic, calculated way.

"Some Australian citizens are going to be completely freaked out."

Fergus Hanson, head of cyber policy at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said Australians needed to think about where the "guard rails" around privacy should be.

"I think we can all agree that it's useful to use systems like this to track down terrorists or to track down murderers, [but] what happens when we start having more minor crimes being prosecuted and people arrested using this same technology?" Mr Hanson said.

"Would we be OK for example with the Government using that technology to track down someone who hadn't paid a parking fine?

"DNA testing, originally that was a very niche capability that developed, and now it's run of the mill technology that you would run for lots of different crime types."

Mr Hanson said the public needs to consider who ought to own personal data, and how it might be used in the future.

"You don't have to go very far back in history to appreciate why privacy is important, and the constraints that need to be there around states in terms of how they exercise their authority," he said.At the COAG National Security Summit, .

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said "it is more perhaps in sorrow than in anger" that the heightened terrorism threats facing Australia had sparked the need for harsher measures.

"Nonetheless, all jurisdictions have signed up today and it reflects the need for a joined up and collective response to difficult issues," Mr Barr said.

"But to do so within the framework of a Human Rights Act that we have in the ACT has required us to work closely with the Commonwealth to achieve the outcome.

"And I want to acknowledge that that has been achieved, and that's an important thing for residents in the ACT."

Citation: Jake Evans and Clare Sibthorpe, October 5, 2017, "Facial recognition: Feature creep may impose government's software in our lives, expert warns", Australian Broadcasting Corporation News.

Facial Recognition and Scope Creep in Australian Proposal

'Before we know it…': worries over feature creep

But surveillance expert Professor Katina Michael pointed to an established trend of technology creeping up in scope and said The Capability would be no exception.

She expected the system to slide down a slippery slope of privacy erosion, eventually being used for petty crime, civil cases and a whole range of purposes unrelated to terrorism.

"It's a farce," she said.

"Before we know it'll be used for breath tests and speeding, it will be used to open a bank account … licences are our primary ID — so does that mean everywhere we've been using them for identity, all the clubs and pubs, will have access to it?

"Even car insurance — [people will think] 'we are using it for drivers' licences, maybe we should also use it for third-party compulsory insurance. And then we need it for health insurance'."

Your face 'may end up on some third-party selling list'

Ms Michael was equally concerned about systematic errors causing potential mistaken identities and leading to people being wrongly accused or suspected of crime.

"It's not going to take long for these systems to be hacked, no matter what security you have in place and once it's hacked, that's it — everyone's facial images will end up on some third-party selling list and possibly on the internet for accessibility."

"Yeah, people put photos on Facebook, but not in that kind of systematic, calculated way.

"Some Australian citizens are going to be completely freaked out."

Original Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-05/facial-recognition-coag-privacy-concerns-about-the-capability/9017494

Citation: Jake Evans and Clare Sibthorpe, "Facial recognition: Feature creep may impose government's software in our lives, expert warns", ABC News, October 5, 2017. Available: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-05/facial-recognition-coag-privacy-concerns-about-the-capability/9017494

Are you an addict? Turns out we're all tech junkies

How many times have you looked at your phone today?

Chances are you're looking at it right now.

Before you try and deny you're addicted, here are some stats to consider:

Australian men unlock their phones more than anyone in the world - on average 45 to 46 times a day, while for Australian women it is around 42 times.

Those figures have been calculated by AntiSocial, an app developed by Melbourne software company Bugbean, to monitor people's use of social media.

It is a free app with no ads that is only available on Android because the creators say Apple does not allow such monitoring, but the idea is to encourage users to put down their devices.

Australians spend around two hours a day on apps

According to AntiSocial's developer Chris Eade, Australian men and women spend about two hours a day on their phones, and that is not including use for music streaming, video streaming, or making calls - that is pure Facebook, web surfing, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat.

VIDEO: Watch the discussion between Emma Alberici, Adam Atler and Katina Michael (Lateline)

Adam Alter, from the Stern School of Business, has written a book called Irresistible - why we can't stop checking, scrolling, clicking and watching.

He told Lateline around 50 per cent of the adult population has some form of behavioural addiction.

"I think you can ask yourself if you have a problem and you'll know," he said.

"[People] feel that their lives are being encroached upon by devices, their social lives, maybe their relationships with their loved ones and friends. They're not experiencing nature. They're not exercising."

Our boredom threshold at rock bottom

Mr Alter said smartphones have changed human behaviour so much that we no longer allow ourselves to experience being bored.

"Our boredom threshold has declined to the point where you'll get in an elevator for five seconds, take out your phone," he said.

Hooked on social media

All in the Mind zooms in on the relationship between social media use and our mental health.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/hooked-on-social-media/7885492

"Boredom is very important for productivity, for creativity and new ideas, and if you never allow yourself to be bored, you will never have those ideas."

Mr Alter has written about a private school near Silicon Valley that uses no technology, yet surprisingly 75 per cent of the students' parents work in the tech sector.

"You'd think their children would be the biggest users of tech. But what you actually find, it's the reverse that a lot of these tech titans refuse to let their kids near technology," he said.

"Steve Jobs in 2010 in an interview said things like, 'you should use this device, but we do not allow it in our home and we won't let our kids near it'. He was talking about the iPad."

How to break up with your device

Katina Michael, from the University of Wollongong's School of Computing and IT, specialises in online addiction, and she told Lateline that tech companies have a lot to answer for.

"I think it's extremely hypocritical," she said.

"The laptop's not made you smarter and more intelligent. I think the companies that Adam was talking about need to recheck their ethics and I think our children need to stop being sold the wrong story about what is going to make their future brighter. We have a lot to answer for as academics."

Professor Michael had this advice for tech addicts looking to wean themselves off their devices:

"Think about replacing the activities that you have done online with offline activities, whether it's going for physical exercise, joining a community group or just getting a job, or just speaking with your family and making real food instead of playing a game about making food," she said.

If you're still questioning whether or not you're addicted, compare how you stack up to AntiSocial's biggest user.

"Our biggest user we have at the moment is a woman in America who uses her phone for 7.5 hours a day, every day on average," Mr Eade said.

"That's a full time job."

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-25/are-you-an-addict-how-australians-are-tech-junkies/8554532