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Facial recognition

­­­­FACIAL RECOGNITION | MENRUS.CO.UKDeveloped in the 60s, facial recognition is a bit of a catch-all term for any technology that involves recognising and cataloguing human faces. The systems that make this happen are computer technologies capable of recognising and identifying an individual from a digital image/ photo or video source. The technology has come a long way since then and the reason we've included something on this website is because the police are using it, in London and elsewhere.

"Facial recognition frequently sparks two distinct fears: that it will not work well enough, or that it will work too well. The first concern highlights the fact that the technology, still in its infancy, is prone to false positives and false negatives, particularly when used with noisy imagery, such as that harvested from CCTV cameras installed years or decades ago. When that technology is used to arrest, convict or imprison people, on a possibly faulty basis, it can cause real harm. Worse, the errors are not evenly distributed; facial recognition systems have regularly been found to be inaccurate at identifying people with darker skin."
What is facial recognition - and how do police use it? | The Guardian | 24 Jan 2020

Some of the pros and cons of facial recognition

  • Pros include public security and tackling crime, fast and non-invasive identity verification (eg: passport control) and tackling banking fraud
  • Cons include data privacy concerns, erosion of civil freedoms, lack of regulation, racial bias, reliability, and cost

South Wales Police and automatic facial recognition (AFR) technology 

In an interesting (some say 'ground-breaking') development, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the use of automatic facial recognition (AFR) technology by South Wales Police is unlawful:

"The use of automatic facial recognition (AFR) technology by South Wales Police is unlawful, the Court of Appeal has ruled. It follows a legal challenge brought by civil rights group Liberty and Ed Bridges, 37, from Cardiff. But the court also found its use was proportionate interference with human rights as the benefits outweighed the impact on Mr Bridges. South Wales Police said it would not be appealing the findings."

Facial recognition use by South Wales Police ruled unlawful | BBC News | 11 Aug 2020

The Metropolitan Police service for London has said this on its website:

"The Met is aware that the Court of Appeal has made its judgment regarding specific concerns raised about the use of South Wales Police facial recognition technology. The Met's approach to live facial recognition is different to the South Wales Police cases which were appealed.

This reflects our policing needs, which given the complexity of keeping London safe and the different crime issues impacting the capital, are very different from those in South Wales. Differences include that the Met has been clear that our use of this technology is intelligence-led, and focused on helping tackle serious crime, including serious violence, gun and knife crime, child sexual exploitation and helping protect the vulnerable. We tell the public about each use of facial recognition technology in advance of, during and afterwards.

We use the latest accurate algorithm and have our own tailored and carefully considered policy documents. This is reflective of the Met’s use of live facial recognition (LFR) to keep Londoners safe. We will carefully consider the judgment and act on any relevant points to ensure that we maintain our commitment to use facial recognition in a legal, ethical and proportionate way."

Court of appeal judgment | Live Facial recognition | Metropolitan Police


 Facial recognition | Liberty
Live facial recognition | Metropolitan Police
Facial recognition | Wikipedia

Legal victory over facial recognition | BBC Radio 4 | 14 Aug 2020

London is buying heaps of facial recognition tech | Wired | 27 Sep 2021
ICO watchdog 'deeply concerned' over live facial recognition | BBC News | 18 Jun 2021
 Is police use of face recognition now illegal in the UK? | New Scientist | 11 Aug 2020
 Snapshot Paper - Facial Recognition Technology | GOV.UK | 20 May 2020
 Met police deploy live facial recognition technology | The Guardian | 11 Feb 2020
What is facial recognition - and how do police use it? | The Guardian | 24 Jan 2020

Facial recognition technology scrapped at King's Cross site | 2 Sep 2019 | The Guardian
Surveillance software switched off at prestigious development after backlash

How does facial recognition work and is it safe? | WIRED Explains | Wired UK | 10 Feb 2020 | 5m 50s
Facial recognition cameras to be turned on in London | Sky News | 24 Jan 2020 | 1m 57s
The pros and cons of facial recognition | The Telegraph | 21 May 2019 | 1m 49s
Fines and facial recognition | BBC Click | 17 May 2019 | 3m 19s
How does facial recognition work? | Brit Lab | BBC Earth Live | 26 Nov 2016 | 7m 26s

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