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Secret Police Surveillance Programme Violates Privacy Of All New Zealanders

A secret trial of facial recognition artificial intelligence by New Zealand Police has violated the privacy of the country, say criminal justice advocates. The trial began without the knowledge of either top cops or the Privacy Commissioner, which community organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa says is evidence of a growing trend of secrecy and unaccountable decision-making.

“Using Clearview AI, the police have appropriated New Zealanders’ public and private photographs without consent. This radical erosion of privacy should not have been trialled without consultation from the Privacy Commissioner” says People Against Prisons Aotearoa spokesperson Jess Lim.

“Between the Armed Response Teams, Warrantless entry powers and the Clearview Pilot shows that the New Zealand Police are more willing to abuse their power.”

“Once again, the Police have acted without oversight and consent, and this indicates a disturbing trend of the Police exercising extra judicial power.”

“This utterly undermines the fundamental right to privacy we all have under the Privacy Act,” says Lim. “Privacy is a human right, one the Police have decided to take away from us without consulting either the Privacy Commissioner or even their own bosses.”

The organisation is concerned that this secret trial comes after the surprise announcement of the controversial armed police patrol trials in October of last year. People Against Prisons Aotearoa says the police have shown they can’t be trusted to regulate themselves.

“First the cops decided they should be allowed to carry assault rifles while they carry out routine policing. Then the cops decided they should be allowed to use artificial intelligence to track New Zealanders using data scraped from our social media accounts. It is beyond clear that ministerial intervention is necessary. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Minister Stuart Nash have a responsibility to step in and take the reins off of the unelected, unaccountable, untrustworthy police bureaucrats who have been setting these wildly unlawful police policies.”

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