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etvfutures.com May 22, 2018


Police Facial Recognition Is An Authoritarian And Oppressive Surveillance Tool

16 May 2018, 03:20 | Cesar Cruz

Are we being watched

Are you being watched? Police admit to taking

Currently, there is no legislation in the United Kingdom that regulates the use of facial recognition systems through CCTV cameras by the police, nor is there any independent oversight for the police's use of these systems. The force made no arrest using the automated facial recognition system.

Big Brother Watch's campaign, calling on United Kingdom public authorities to immediately stop using automated facial recognition software with surveillance cameras, is backed by David Lammy MP and 15 rights and race equality groups including Article 19, Football Supporters Federation, Index on Censorship, Liberty, Netpol, Police Action Lawyers Group, the Race Equality Foundation, and Runnymede Trust.

Typically people on this list have mental health issues, and Big Brother Watch expressed concern that the police said there had not been prior consultation with mental health professionals about cross-matching against people in this database.

Figures revealed in response to Freedom of Information requests by the group, show that for London's Metropolitan Police, 98 per cent of "matches" identified by the technology were wrong, the figure standing at 91 per cent for South Wales Police.

The group described this as a "chilling example of function creep" and an example of the risky effect it could have on the rights of marginalised people.

It also raised concerns that photos of any "false alarms" were sometimes kept by police for weeks.

As a result, it said, "any demographic disproportionately in this hi-tech policing will remain unaccountable and hidden from public view". A Met police spokesperson said that all alerts on its watch list were deleted after 30 days and faces that do not generate an alert are immediately deleted. Meanwhile, we have discovered that the Home Office has funded South Wales Police's use of automated facial recognition with £2.6million.

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SWP - which has used AFR at 18 public places since it was first introduced in May 2017 - has fared only slightly better.

"On a much smaller number of occasions, officers went and spoke to the individual. realised it wasn't them, and offered them the opportunity to come and see the van".

Further details are expected in the long-awaited biometrics strategy, which is slated to appear in June.

"If we move forward on this path, these systems will mistakenly identify innocent people as criminals or terrorists and will be used by unscrupulous governments to silence unwelcome voices". The rights group argues that police should delete such images as they do fingerprints and DNA once an individual is found to be innocent or released without charge.

Wiles also called for more regulation around the use of such systems: "In terms of governance, technical development and deployment is running ahead of legislation and these new biometrics urgently need a legislative framework, as already exists for DNA and fingerprints".

Big Brother Watch's report claims that South Wales Police "staged interventions with 31 innocent members of the public incorrectly identified by the system who were then asked to prove their identity and thus their innocence". However, the British people will need to decide whether or not they want to live in a world where they are continuously watched, intrusively surveilled, and biometrically tracked, and think about how that may affect their fundamental rights.



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