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Office of the Australian Information Commissioner: “Clearview AI breached Australians’ privacy”

Back in February 2020, Holman Webb published an article ‘AI and Facial Identification Technology – the Face of the Future?’, which referred to an article in the New York Times highlighting Clearview AI, and the use of the company’s facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies internationally.

At the time the Australian Parliament was considering the introduction of the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019 and Australian Passports Amendment (Identity-matching Services) Bill 2019 which would enable the Department of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs and Trade to utilise similar facial recognition technology.

As it turns out, Holman Webb Lawyers were not the only ones taking a close look at Clearview AI. Since that time, it appears that Clearview AI was offering free software trials to numerous law enforcement agencies within Australia, some of whom have commenced their investigation into the use of the app and have been feeding visual data into the system.

Remember: Your Personal Information is of Value to Others

HealthEngine, an online booking engine and review platform for medical practises has been hit with a $2.9M fine for sharing the non-clinical personal information of 135,000 patients.

AI and Facial Identification Technology – the Face of the Future?

Last week The New York Times released an article focussed on facial recognition technology. The piece examined Clearview AI, a company which whilst being virtually unknown, is, according to the New York Times, already being used by over 600 law enforcement agencies internationally. The company is reported to have already scraped over 3 billion images from across the internet.

If your business or organisation has a turnover greater than 3 million per year the significant changes that were made to the Australian Privacy Act on 12 March 2014 are likely to apply to your organisation. A compliance program should be implemented to ensure any personal information that is used or disclosed by the organisation is appropriately protected.

The reforms implemented 13 new Australian Privacy Principals, with substantial changes being made to the principles surrounding direct marketing and cross border disclosure of information.  Additional changes to the Act implement changes to the credit reporting regime that will be particularly relevant to insurers if they undertake online credit reference checks on insureds or other individuals.

Australian Privacy Laws and Health Information

Australia privacy rights are regulated by Commonwealth and State legislation and the laws protecting confidential information under the common law.

Australian privacy laws govern the collection, use and disclosure of “personal information”.  Further, individuals are provided with a right of access and correction of their own personal information.  There are also data security, data quality and cross-border transborder data flow requirements.

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