Hong Kong Police Refuse to Confirm or Deny Use of Facial Recognition on Protestors

Biometrics News - Hong Kong Police Refuse to Confirm or Deny Use of Facial Recognition on Protestors

Hong Kong police have access to facial recognition technology, but it isn’t clear if they have deployed it in their response to ongoing public protests, reports the South China Morning Post.

Citing anonymous individuals who are familiar with the matter, the report says that Hong Kong’s police force has been contracting facial recognition technology from Australia-based iOmniscient over the last three years, and that the company has at this point trained dozens of police officers to use the technology. iOmniscient’s technology can not only identify faces, but can also recognize vehicles’ license plate numbers, and can match faces to license plates.

iOmniscient declined to comment on whether its technology was indeed being used by Hong Kong’s police authorities, but it did say that Hong Kong delivered only a small proportion of its global revenues. Hong Kong’s police force also declined to confirm whether it has used facial recognition to manage disruptive protests against mainland China’s perceived interference over domestic Hong Kong political matters.

Wary of the extensive biometric surveillance apparatus in place in mainland China, Hong Kong protestors have attacked CCTV cameras and ‘smart lamp posts’, and have donned masks. In response, government authorities implemented an emergency law banning face masks.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Chinese University of Hong Kong law professor Stuart Hargreaves said that Hong Kong privacy laws require authorities to notify the public if they are being subjected to surveillance, though police can claim an exemption if the surveillance is being undertaken to prevent or detect criminal activity.

Source: South China Morning Post

October 23, 2019 – by Alex Perala