I never forget a face, but names? Meh. Luckily for me and millions of other forgetful Aussies, the ocker pronoun of choice (‘g’day mate’) remains as popular as ever, although the upstart millenial alternative (‘hey c*nt’) is giving it a solid run for its money. While I can’t see the latter catching on in Macquarie Street, leaked texts from Federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne suggest otherwise, as one unnamed politician has confirmed: “If you opened anyone’s phone [in parliament house] you’d probably find similar stuff on it,” said one MP. “Yes, it’s unpleasant. It’s politics.”
All I can say is, revel in your unpleasantries while you can, because in the near future there will be no such thing as anonymity. Privacy? Hah, already dead and buried despite what anybody says. In the public interest, the federal government virtually coerced millions of Aussies to install a dodgy tracking app which to date has yielded no benefit whatsoever. Now the Prime Minister tells us we are the target of sophisticated cyber-attacks by a foreign state (China) and that government, corporate and individual data is under threat. Are you saying our tracking app data has been compromised, Scotty? Are you fucking kidding me? I thought our shit was secure, Scotty? Isn’t that what you promised?
Now we’re trialling facial recognition software in every state. Do you recall this being on the table at the last election, because I don’t. Forgive me if I don’t accept that the software will be limited to ‘public interest’ usage — helping the authorities to locate missing puppies, children, dementia patients, terrorists — because facial recognition is an ‘always on’ technology. It passively profiles you against a massive database of images, so statistically insignificant error rates will become a nasty reality for the false-positives. I wouldn’t get a tan and grow a beard, because some twitchy ASIO officer is liable to face-plant you on the tiles the minute you step into any international point of departure.
While I doubt we’ll end up with anything as Orwellian as the ‘Social Credit System‘ at work in China, we already use systems that trawl the internet for identifying images of our citizenry. Facebook calls it ‘scraping’ and say its prohibited under their policy. But, you know, who cares, Facebook? You don’t even enforce their own policies. So those gross pics of Aunty Dawn’s septuagenarian side-boob escaping out of her bathing trunks last summer at Bondi? Thanks to your relentless cataloguing of every banal moment of your life, they’re now among the ‘billions‘ of images that Clearview AI is spruiking to Australian law enforcement agencies across the country. The fact none of the agencies will confirm or deny that they’re using it, means they are ALL using it.
As one utterly forgetable Prime Minster once cautioned us, its time to be alert, not alarmed. This isn’t 1950’s East Germany, and ASIO aren’t the Staatssicherheitsdienst, but if you’re hot on the heels of a wanted terrorist spotted on the Pitt Street cctv, and this killer starts reaching for something in her handbag? How do you think its going to end? Tell your Aunt that she needs to grow a moustache, and for god’s sake put on some clothes.