Wed | Feb 26, 2020

London police to use face scan technology, stoking privacy fears

Published:Friday | January 24, 2020 | 11:32 AM
In this file photo dated Wednesday, March 28, 2012, a security CCTV camera is seen by the Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Park in London. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, FILE)

LONDON (AP) — London police say they will start using live facial recognition cameras in operational deployments, in a major advance for the controversial technology.

The Metropolitan Police Service said Friday it will use the cameras to automatically scan the faces of people passing through small targeted areas where intelligence suggests serious offenders will be found.

It did not say how many areas or cameras would be deployed.

Real-time crowd surveillance by police in the British capital is among the more aggressive uses of facial recognition in wealthy democracies and raises questions about how the technology will enter people’s daily lives.

Authorities and private companies are eager to use facial recognition but rights groups say it threatens civil liberties and represents an expansion of surveillance.

London’s decision to use the technology defies warnings from rights groups, lawmakers and independent experts, Amnesty International researcher Anna Bacciarelli said.

“Facial recognition technology poses a huge threat to human rights, including the rights to privacy, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” Bacciarelli said.

London police said the facial recognition system, which runs on technology from Japan’s NEC, looks for faces in crowds to see if they match any on 'watchlists' of people wanted for serious and violent offences, including gun and knife crimes and child sexual exploitation.

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