14 May

Queensland Police's Unsuccessful Facial Recognition System

Commonwealth Games
Image from: Commonwealth Games Federation

During the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Queensland Police tried out a new technology with the aim to detect high-profile and target faces. From an internal police report released as a matter of public interest, we now know that the deployment was rushed and there were technical difficulties with the system.

Both the Queensland and Federal Government denied important legislation that resulted in the system’s database being reduced by almost 40 million images. With a ~500% reduction in reference images, the facial recognition system was somewhat doomed from the start.

Starting with focus on 16 high-priority targets, the system was unable to detect any of said 16. It is currently unclear if this was due to system error, or whether the targets were simply not present. Queensland Police then changed the scope to search for 268 targets – of which, 5 were identified.

Due to security reasons, the exact processes and mechanism of the biometric system are unknown to the general public. This means that we don’t know what exact issues the systems have.

Parliament and Government organisations (Police etc) are paying particular attention to issues of biometric security at the moment. As Australia looks to use biometric technology more broadly, the need for a supervisory body is highlighted.

How can Australia begin the transition from passports to biometrics when the biometric systems are flawed and the laws not providing adequate guidance or control?

Original story from

About the Author.

Blair M Carey

Blair Carey is a Criminal Law Clerk at Gatenby Criminal Lawyers.  He has a keen passion for the interaction of technology and the law, particularly on how the law governs the ever changing technologies. Blair assists Michael Gatenby and our expert solicitors with providing the best advice on all related matters.