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Following a critical report, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has called for a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition and other biometric algorithms in important government decision making until concrete legislation is enacted.

The AHRC’s report came about due to the lack of regulation and policy on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in facial recognition. Despite Australia’s pursuance of innovation, AHRC’s Commissioner Ed Santow stated that facial recognition technology is opaque and may impact human rights through unethical or unlawful decision-making.

The AHRC is calling for new legislation to be introduced to govern the use and development of AI facial recognition technology. This statute will be necessary to balance public freedom, privacy, and law enforcement. Moreover, the Commission is arguing for legislation to notify individuals whether AI is materially used in administrative decision-making and a technical explanation of how such decisions are produced. When such laws are developed, it is key that a human rights impact assessment is performed to determine whether domestic laws adhere to international human rights obligations.

Additionally, the AHRC has requested that an independent AI Safety Commissioner be established to act as an independent authority to “champion the public interest”. Regardless of the technology, transparency is essential to ensure public acceptance and governmental/regulatory compliance. As AI becomes more integrated with our society, it comes as no surprise that there should be an external AI Safety Commissioner to oversee government operation and their actions on the Australian public.

Lastly, the AHRC’s report called for an audit on all current, upcoming, and proposed AI decision-making technology. This is recommended to be done by a multi-disciplinary task force that would work under the AI Safety Commissioner to review AI-informed decision-making technology.

If the AHRC’s recommendations are accepted, Australia’s laws could be at the forefront of AI integration with modern society and lead international AI regulation.

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