Daily Management Review

Live Facial Recognition Cameras Will Be Used By London Police


The police in London will now use live facial recognition technology to enable law enforcers to more easily identify suspects and manage the city. This controversial plan was announced by London's Metropolitan Police.
The police will use the technology in places and cases where there is previous data that indicates the most likely presence of people responsible for serious and violent crimes which includes crimes such as gun and knife attacks and child sexual exploitation, the police department said in a statement on Friday. The statement further added that faces of people will be scanned as they walked by with the help of clearly marked cameras that would be focused on small, targeted areas.
"As a modern police force, I believe that we have a duty to use new technologies to keep people safe in London," assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said in a statement. "We are using a tried-and-tested technology. Similar technology is already widely used across the UK, in the private sector," he added.
This new technology being planned to be used has been developed by the Japanese company NEC. The police department said that this technology is a standalone system and is not linked to any other form of imaging systems such as closed-circuit television, body worn video or automatic number plate recognition.
In October, the Information Commissioner's Office of the United Kingdom had reviewed live facial recognition technology. That however also raised serious questions related to privacy and accuracy. The review also signaled evidence the women and people of color are discriminated against by this technology and Federal researchers in the United States have documented this issue as a number of cities there have banned the use of this technology.
"Moving too quickly to deploy technologies that can be overly invasive in people's lawful daily lives risks damaging trust not only in the technology, but in the fundamental model of policing by consent," Elizabeth Denham, the UK's Information Commissioner, said at the time.
The risks of facial recognition technology outweigh the benefits, some major cities in California, United States, have concluded which include cities like San Francisco and Oakland, as well as Somerville, Massachusetts. These cities have already banned the use of the technology for policing.
On the other hand, India wants to develop the largest facial recognition system in the world and this technology has been has put in the country to find missing children.
A call on the UK government for taking urgent steps to introduce laws to govern live facial recognition was given by Denham's office on Friday. "We have received assurances from the [Metropolitan Police] that it is considering the impact of this technology and is taking steps to reduce intrusion and comply with the requirements of data protection legislation," the commissioner's office said in a statement.
Democratic freedoms would be undermined, warned advocacy groups.
"This decision represents an enormous expansion of the surveillance state and a serious threat to civil liberties in the UK," Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo said in a statement Friday. "Facial recognition technology gives the State unprecedented power to track and monitor any one of us, destroying our privacy and our free expression," Liberty's advocacy director, Clare Collier, said in a statement.