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News > United Kingdom

'Facial Recognition Is a Threat', UK Civil Rights Activists Say

  • Screen advertising facial recognition software at the Global Mobile Internet Conference, Beijing, China, April 27, 2018.

    Screen advertising facial recognition software at the Global Mobile Internet Conference, Beijing, China, April 27, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 January 2020
Opinion

Besides being an inaccurate technology, live facial recognition expands "The Surveillance State".

Human rights defenders and civil rights activists severely criticized the decision of Scotland Yard to start the operational use of live facial recognition (LFR) cameras in London.

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The Big Brother Watch (BBW) director Silkie Carlo considered that the introduction of such technology represents a huge expansion of the surveillance state and a very serious threat to civil liberties.

"It flies in the face of the independent review showing the Metropolitan Police's use of facial recognition was likely unlawful, risked harming public rights and was 81 percent inaccurate," Carlo said, as reported by Morning Star.

"This is a breathtaking assault on our rights and we will challenge it... This move instantly stains the new government's human-rights record and we urge an immediate reconsideration."

The Liberty Organization activist Clare Collier described the use of the LFR as dangerous, oppressive, and totally unjustified.

"The LFR tech gives the state unprecedented power to track and monitor any one of us, destroying our privacy and our free expression," Collier said.

While the London Metropolitan Police decided to use the LFR tech without weighing the risks well, the European Commission authorities are considering a five-year ban of facial recognition in public places.

This possible prohibition, however, will not include some cases related to the use of the LFR tech for research and security projects.

“The idea is that the temporary ban would give researchers and policymakers time to study the technology and figure out how best to regulate it, the MIT Technology Review reported.

Facial recognition technology uses special cameras and software to analyze the characteristics of faces in a crowd and create a digital image, which is then compared with photographs of people who are of interest to the authorities.

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