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17    Law and Justice— Government facial recognition systems

Senator Steele-John, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 786—That the Senate—

               (a)       notes that:

                                     (i)       in March 2017, the United States of America (US) Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform heard that approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are in a Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) database - FRT has accuracy deficiencies leading to misidentifying female and African American individuals at a higher rate; human verification is often insufficient as a backup and can allow for racial bias; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accepts an error rate of 15% in its system, and that the FBI used FRT for years without first publishing a privacy impact assessment and went to great lengths to exempt itself from certain provisions of the Privacy Act,

                                    (ii)       in June 2016, the US Government Accountability Office analysed the FBI’s use of FRT and found it to be lacking in accountability, accuracy and oversight, with key concerns that the FBI system does not test for false positives or for racial bias,

                                  (iii)       FRT is subject to biases based on the data sets provided and the conditions in which algorithms are created, and

                                  (iv)       the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability, based on the FBI’s Next Generation Identification program, is subject to the same risks of bias and error rates; and

               (b)       calls on the Federal Government to ensure that:

                                     (i)       all steps are taken to minimise bias and error rates in government facial recognition systems, including testing for false positives and racial bias, and

                                    (ii)       government agencies using facial recognition systems comply with the Privacy Act, and maintain transparency, accountability, accuracy and oversight.

Statements by leave : The Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister (Senator McGrath) and Senator Chisholm, by leave, made statements relating to the motion.

Question put.

The Senate divided—

AYES, 13

Senators—

Bartlett

Hinch

Patrick

Siewert*

Di Natale

Leyonhjelm

Rhiannon

Steele-John

Griff

McKim

Rice

Whish-Wilson

Hanson-Young

 

 

 

NOES, 34

Senators—

Abetz

Dodson

McAllister

Pratt

Brockman

Duniam

McCarthy

Ruston

Brown

Fawcett

McGrath

Seselja

Bushby

Gichuhi

Molan

Smith

Cameron

Hume

Moore

Stoker

Canavan

Keneally

O’Neill

Urquhart*

Chisholm

Ketter

Paterson

Watt

Colbeck

Kitching

Payne

Williams

Collins

Martin

 

* Tellers

Question negatived.