Police Scotland is coming under intense scrutiny for its use of facial recognition technology. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has tasked the HM Inspector of Constabulary to investigate the police service’s use of the biometric technology to determine whether it has broken the law and violated civil liberties.
The development follows Police Scotland’s recent admission to its widespread use of facial recognition technology to identify criminal suspects in CCTV footage, which came in the wake of a Freedom of Information request. Police revealed that they had used the technology to match mugshots from their National Police Database to faces scanned in CCTV footage in over 400 instances – a number that has now risen to almost 500. Even before that, though, Scottish police weren’t exactly keeping it a secret; in March the head of Scotland Yard called for all UK citizens to install CCTV cameras to help police to effectively use facial recognition technology.
Many have voiced concern about the use of this technology, with a February BBC report revealing that the mugshot database contains images of subsequently cleared or acquitted citizens, and privacy advocates and government officials subsequently voicing their own misgivings. The new investigation being undertaken by the HM Inspector of Constabulary will look at issues such as whether Police Scotland violated its own policies in using the technology, and how its management of the collected data has dealt with ethical considerations.
Source: Herald Scotland
August 6, 2015 – by Alex Perala