Australian states trial face recognition tech to police Covid curbs

SYDNEY: Australia's two most populous states are trialling facial recognition software that lets police check people are home during Covid-19 quarantine, expanding trials that have sparked controversy to the vast majority of the country's population.

Little-known tech company Genvis said on a website for its software that New South Wales and Victoria, home to Sydney, Melbourne and more than half of Australia's 25 million population, were trialling its facial recognition products.

Genvis said the trials were being conducted on a voluntary basis.

The Perth-based start-up developed the software in 2020 with Western Australian state police to help enforce pandemic curbs, and has said it hopes to sell its services abroad.

South Australia state began trialling a similar, non-Genvis technology last month, sparking warnings from privacy advocates about potential surveillance overreach.


The involvement of New South Wales and Victoria, which have not disclosed that they are trialling facial recognition technology, may amplify those concerns.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was "close to piloting some home quarantine options for returning Australians", without directly responding to questions about Genvis software.Victoria's health department did not comment.

Victoria, yesterday reported 514 cases, exceeding the year's previous daily high of 473 on Monday. There were 1,351 cases reported in New South Wales yesterday, up from 1,259. - REUTERS