Roy Morgan’s latest SNAP SMS Survey has revealed the majority of Australians (67.5%) are not concerned their driver’s license photos will be used for mass facial recognition technology, following Prime Minister Turnbull’s support of the creation of a national facial recognition database.

The featured question was:

“Under anti-terror measures State Governments will provide driver licence photos for mass facial recognition technology. Does this concern you?” 

32.5% of Australians surveyed expressed their concern.

Roy Morgan’s survey was conducted over October 7th – 9th and featured a cross-section of 1,486 Australians 18 years and older.

The research found Greens supporters (59%) are more concerned than Labor supporters (33.5%) or L-NP supporters (19%).

There was little difference between the genders, with 33% of females and 32% of males concerned about mass facial recognition technology.

Interestingly, younger Australians (18 -24 years) are more likely to be concerned than older individuals (19% of those aged over 65).

Queensland and South Australia lead as the states most ‘unconcerned’ about mass facial recognition technology (75.5%), followed by Tasmania (68.5%), Western Australia (66.5%), New South Wales (66%) and Victorians (62%).

For the majority of individuals who did not express their concern over the matter, their primary reasoning focused on having ‘nothing to hide’, and the fact it would assist Australian authorities with counter-terrorism measures.

The survey also alluded to the fact that the notion of ‘privacy’ has changed in recent years, and that mass facial recognition technology was not overly invasive in light of this.

For those individuals who expressed concern, their primary reasoning surrounded an erosion of privacy and civil liberties. Some individuals expressed a lack of trust in the government, along with the fact racial profiling may be conducted.

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer of Roy Morgan Research, affirmed the need for the technology in light of recent terrorist actions:

“Following last week’s Las Vegas shooting in which a lone gunman is accused of murdering more than 50 people, and injuring in excess of 500 concert goers, the Australian Government announced plans to establish a national database linked to driver licence photos held by State Governments”

“The database will utilise the latest facial-recognition technology to allow for policing agencies to monitor Australians as part of upgraded anti-terrorism efforts to identify potential trouble-makers particularly at large public gatherings and public locations such as train stations and on city streets”

“The vast majority of Australians were more comfortable with allowing this new level of surveillance with many mentioning they had nothing to hide and therefore nothing to worry about and that it is important to take any measures we can to deal with the threat of terrorism and increase public safety”.

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