Facial recognition use criticised

The police have been using large-scale face recognition software more in recent times. It was used at the recent Coronation, and also at a Beyoncé concert in Cardiff. In each case, facial recognition software was used to scan tens of thousands of faces against a police ‘watch list’ of people wanted for “priority offences”.

Concerns have been raised in several areas including proportionality (in once case, 60,000 faces were scanned but the number of matches and arrests is unknown) and retention (the police say that unmatched faces will only be held for 31 days but there is no evidence for this).

According to the BBC tech web article at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-65622404, the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson is quoted saying that “the intent now from the Home Office [is] to embed facial recognition across policing and law enforcement”.

Work is ongoing to help compensate for the bias in most facial recognition software, but Professor Sampson feels that more needs to be done, to build public confidence.

He also makes the point that the surveillance camera code, which provides guidance to the police, has been removed from the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.