Another British privacy watchdog is asking the police to suspend their use of facial recognition, at least until the potential impact of face-based surveillance is more completely understood. The latest request was issued by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and it echoes similar demands from organizations like Big Brother Watch and Amnesty International.
The EHRC statement is a response to several high-profile facial recognition deployments in Great Britain. London’s Metropolitan Police Service moved forward with its plans for a face-based surveillance network, placing cameras at the Stratford Centre despite an independent review that suggested that its software may be only 19 percent accurate. The South Wales police also used facial recognition to monitor the crowd during a recent Cardiff City football match.
The EHRC argued that law enforcement agencies have been emboldened since the high court refused to review a legal challenge to the use of the technology in South Wales.
“The law is clearly on the back foot with invasive [automated facial recognition] and predictive policing technologies,” said EHRC Chief Executive Rebecca Hilsenrath. “It is essential that their use is suspended until robust, independent impact assessments and consultations can be carried out, so that we know exactly how this technology is being used and are reassured that our rights are being respected.”
The London and South Wales rollout are not the only facial recognition controversies to emerge in the past few months. The UK Home Office came under fire for using a facial recognition system with known racial biases, while the Information Commissioner’s Office is currently investigating the use of biometric surveillance at a development in central London. The London police later admitted that it had supplied database images for that surveillance program.
The British Home Secretary has previously expressed support for facial recognition.
Source: The Guardian
March 12, 2020 – by Eric Weiss