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Overreach by the Australian Government.

Posted on 4th November 2021

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This story on the BBC is rather worrying.

The report is about a decision by the Australian government that Clearview AI must remove all photos taken in Australia from their facial recognition database, and stop collecting anymore such photos.

Leaving aside the arguments about the invasion of privacy posed by facial recognition, this decision seems to be extreme overreach by the Australians.

If I go to Australia, and while there take a photo of someone who is also not resident in Australia, the government there clearly believes that they have the right to decide what my photograph may be used for. I strongly disagree.

I own the copyright of all photos that I take. People in my photos also have an established legal right to constrain what I do with them. The government of the country in which I took my photos has no legal right to decide what my photos may be use for.

The help pages of this web-site include this statement:

"The copyright of all photographs on this site remains the property of the original copyright owner: either the person who took the photo, or the publisher of the photo. In most cases this means that the copyright is owned by me or by Sheryl. In addition, copyright also belongs to any people appearing in the photos.

Photos on this site are free to reuse for non-commercial purposes. To reuse for commercial purposes, or to get full resolution copies, you must license them ..."

If Clearview AI have copies of my photos in their database, that would constitute commercial use, and would be a breach of my copyright. Such a breach would be a civil legal issue between myself and Clearview AI, not a matter for the Australian government.