Privacy campaigners urge for facial recognition halt

A group of politicians and campaigners have argued that police and companies in the UK must stop using live facial recognition for public surveillance.

Big Brother Watch has written a letter, signed by more than 18 politicians, including David Davis, Diane Abbott, Jo Swinson and Caroline Lucas, arguing that facial recognition is being adopted in the UK before it has been properly scrutinised by politicians.  

Also signed by 25 campaign groups, including Amnesty International and Liberty, the letter claims that the technology, which allows faces captured on CCTV to be checked in real time against watch lists, often compiled by police, is inaccurate, intrusive and infringes on an individual's right to privacy.

The issue was heightened when the Kings Cross estate was reported to be using facial recognition technology without telling the public, with both the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police having supplied the company with images for their database.

This was after South Wales Police was taken to the High Court over its trial of the technology, by a man who was caught on camera.

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: "What we're doing is putting this to government to say: 'Please can we open this debate and have this conversation. But for goodness sake, while it is going on, there is now a surveillance crisis on our hands that needs to be stopped urgently'."



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