Civil society groups are urging the federal government to take up a model law that would govern the use of facial recognition technology in Australia, where legislative loopholes risk creating a “Wild West”.

Drafted by the Human Technology Institute, the proposed rules would impose new obligations on both companies developing or distributing facial recognition systems and any entity deploying them, including police and employers.

The call comes amid growing alarm about the use of the technology by law enforcement, schools and, as consumer advocates CHOICE found in June, even popular stores such as Bunnings and Kmart.

There is also widespread agreement that Australia’s existing privacy regime — currently under review by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus — is not keeping pace with the threats posed by emerging technology.

Edward Santow, former Human Rights Commissioner and co-author of the model code at the University of Technology Sydney, said Australian privacy law wasn’t drafted in…

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