Credas and the UK’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner are among those asking for clearer guidelines for the public use of facial recognition in the country. The interested parties are specifically looking for legislation that would allow the police to use face-based surveillance and identification during their investigations.
The plea comes courtesy of a new article from the BBC. In it, Credas chief executive Rhys David, Camera Commissioner Tony Porter, and several others argue that the laws are falling behind the pace of technological innovation, and that the police should have access to the latest tools in their ongoing fight against various kinds of crime. In that regard, the article is a response to a recent Court of Appeals ruling in Wales, which found that that the South Wales Police’s use of automatic facial recognition was unlawful. The Court cited the lack of transparency and accountability, as well as issues of racial and gender bias, when making its decision.
Porter has since released new best practices guidelines that take the ruling into account, but expressed frustration with the fact that the current law does not offer any leeway. He believes that the country needs new guidelines that specify exactly when and where facial recognition technology can be used. He is hoping for a solution that will allow the police to catch criminals without compromising the trust of the broader public.
“If you look back at the history of new and innovative technologies in policing this is what always happens. You have to let the law catch up a little bit and find out what matters and where the key points of regulation are,” said Professor Martin Innes of the Universities’ Police Sciences Institute. “But we need to think quite carefully about how far do we want this to go, and where is it appropriate for us to introduce these technologies in our lives.”
The article noted that there is a difference between public surveillance and the use of facial recognition for authentication, since the latter typically requires the knowledge and consent of the user. Credas is a Welsh company based in Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, and has developed an app that matches a selfie to a passport photo to verify someone’s identity.
For its part, the UK Home Office said that it is working with the police to craft new guidelines that comply with the Court of Appeals’ decision. The requests of companies like Credas echo those of the IBIA, which has tried to push facial recognition while largely dismissing the concerns of privacy advocates.
January 5, 2021 – by Eric Weiss