Deakin University
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A comparison of Australian and Malaysian views on the use of biometric devices in everyday situations

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journal contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Niranjala Weerakkody
Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, many countries including Australia and Malaysia have been able to justify the use biometric devices such as finger print scans, retina scans and facial recognition for identification and surveillance of its citizens and others in the name of national security. In addition, biometric devices are increasingly being used worldwide by organizations to keep track of their employees and their productivity, leading to concerns of privacy, the safety, reliability, abuse and misuse of the data collected and violations of civil liberties. Taking the critical theory perspective, this paper will analyse the data collected and report on the findings of a survey carried out in Australia and Malaysia, with respect to the responses provided and opinions expressed to the survey s open ended and other questions
by individuals as to their current use, experiences, preferences, concerns about the devices and the situations in which they think biometric devices should be used, including in their workplaces. This descriptive study uses both quantitative and qualitative data to examine what Australians and Malaysians think about the use of biometric devices in everyday situtions
and compare them as to their similarities and differences. The paper will then critically examine the ethical and civil liberties issues involved in the use of biometric devices in everyday life and argues that regulatory and legal measures should be taken to safeguard the rights of citizens while maintaining national security and productivity, in order to avoid the situation of Michel Foucaults Panopticon becoming an unpleasant everyday reality, which could negatively irifluence socialjustice and create social change due to its effects on individuals in two multicultural societies. The paper will argue about the need to educate the general public as to the issues of surveillance and privacy involved in the use of biometric devices in everyday situations.



International journal of learning






63 - 72


Common Ground Publishing


Altona, Vic.








Reproduced with the specific permission of the copyright owner.

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, Common Ground, Niranjala Weerakkody