The latest police weapon in the ‘fight against crime’ is Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology. In a scene that could have come straight from a futuristic Hollywood sci-fi movie, the police have set up cameras in the street and, unknown to the people who pass by, captured people’s biometric data without their consent.
News that Cheshire Police have been using this technology without authorisation should set the alarm bells ringing for any sane person. How long before LFR is used on demonstrations, picket lines and other protests? Groups that the state consider ‘far-right’ will be some of the first groups targeted. As yet no data from Cheshire has been released so we cannot report on how many innocent people (or ‘false positives’) were stopped and interrogated by the police.
“Police and private companies in the UK have been quietly rolling out facial recognition surveillance cameras, taking ‘faceprints’ of millions of people — often without you knowing about it. That’s biometric data as sensitive as a fingerprint. This dangerously authoritarian surveillance is a threat to our privacy and freedoms – and it needs to be stopped.”
After the Cheshire story broke, Big Brother Watch’s Legal and Policy Officer Madeleine Stone said: “Police forces are rolling out new forms of facial recognition at an alarming rate, despite a lack of strict safeguards or parliamentary authorisation.”
She went on to say: “This extreme technology turns the public into walking ID cards and could turn encounters with the police, whether on the roads, during stop and search or at demonstrations into Orwellian police line-ups resulting in yet more intrusive information gathering on the public. Police use of intrusive facial recognition must be urgently stopped and subjected to democratic parliamentary scrutiny.”
“All persons passing a camera(s) are analysed by the system with results being generated in tandem with events. The use of overt live facial recognition is to locate people on a watch list who are sought by police.”
The old Stalinist mantra of ‘nothing to fear, nothing to hide’ just doesn’t wash. Our politically correct police cannot be trusted to uphold our values of personal liberty and free speech. There are too many instances where the police have threatened, arrested and even prosecuted people for posting comments that they deem to be hateful or illegal.
A recent case involved a 16-year-old Patriotic Alternative activist who was taken out of his school classroom after being identified from a video doorbell as the person who had posted door-to-door perfectly legal leaflets warning that Whites would be a minority in this country by 2066. One particularly zealous goon, no-doubt eager for promotion, appealed on Twitter for help in catching this dangerous revolutionary schoolboy. No further action was taken against the lad, but the damage had been done.
The Metropolitan Police also deployed facial recognition technology in Oxford Circus last week (July 14), resulting in the arrests of three people. The vehicle-mounted LFR system was set up outside the tube station and scanned around 15,600 people’s biometric data. Of these 15,600 people, four were “true alerts,” and three people were subsequently arrested. A similar number of innocent people were wrongly detained but released after being interrogated.
The police said in a statement: “This technology helps keep Londoners safe, and will be used to find people who are wanted for violent and serious offences and those with outstanding arrest warrants issued by the court.”
In a briefing document released by The Met in 2020 they said the technology would help the police to ‘improve security and safety on the streets and at public events, particularly when helping to identify persons who pose a significant risk to the public’.
The Independent newspaper reported in May 2019 that facial recognition technology has misidentified members of the public as potential criminals in 96 per cent of scans so far in London
In August 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that a UK police force’s use of facial recognition technology infringed on privacy and data protection laws. South Wales Police use of facial recognition was found to be discriminatory, after lawyers argued it interferes with privacy and data protection laws and is potentially discriminatory.
In June 2021, the Information Commissioner expressed concern about the potential misuse of live facial recognition in public places, and warned that “supercharged CCTV” could be used “inappropriately, excessively or even recklessly”.
In August 2021, a group of civil society bodies urged the Government to ban facial recognition cameras. They also accused the police Home Office of bypassing Parliament over guidance for the use of the technology.
“In a democratic society, it is imperative that intrusive technologies are subject to effective scrutiny,” the letter said.
In October 2021, the European Parliament called for a ban on police use of facial recognition technology in public places, as well as a ban on private facial recognition databases.
The Co-op supermarkets have been secretly using live facial recognition cameras in 35 stores across the south of England and they have no intention to stop. To our knowledge, this is the first supermarket in the UK to permanently install facial recognition. How long before the other supermarket chains follow suite?
Met Police facial recognition 89% inaccurate 2016-2022.
3,000+ people wrongly identified by police facial recognition.
Facial recognition banned in San Francisco + 3 other cities.
In London in January 2019, a man was stopped by police after objecting to being scanned by live facial recognition cameras and covering his face. He was surrounded by officers, and when he protested, he was given a £90 fine for an alleged public order offence.
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