Australia’s two most populous states are trialling facial recognition software that lets police check people are home during COVID-19 quarantine, expanding trials that have sparked controversy to the vast majority of the country’s population.
Little-known tech firm Genvis Pty Ltd said on a website for its software that New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, home to Sydney, Melbourne and more than half of Australia’s 25 million population, were trialling its facial recognition products. Genvis said the trials were being conducted on a voluntary basis.
The Perth, Western Australia-based startup developed the software in 2020 with WA state police to help enforce pandemic movement restrictions, and has said it hopes to sell its services abroad.
South Australia state began trialling a similar, non-Genvis technology last month, sparking warnings from privacy advocates around the world about potential surveillance overreach. The involvement of New South Wales and Victoria, which have not disclosed that they are trialling facial recognition technology, may amplify those concerns.