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Australians generally approve of the use of facial recognition technology by customs or immigration staff, but tend to disapprove of its use in social networking, according to the latest Unisys Security Index – though the result is drawn from a very small base.

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The national survey of 1206 adults conducted in March by Newspoll found that 50 percent of those surveyed did not support the use of facial recognition technology to make it easier for Facebook users to identity or tag friends in photos – a feature of the new Galaxy S III smartphone.

Only 32 percent approved such use.However, respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of using the same technology for policing or border security purposes.

They were a bit more ambivalent about employers using the technology to track people entering their building.

Some 66% of those surveyed thought such practices acceptable.

Around 29% opposed the idea.

“These results suggest that Australians are happy for new security technology to be used, but only when they can perceive a clear and substantive benefit for themselves and for the broader community,” said John Kendall, Unisys Asia-Pacific security program director.

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