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Police trials of facial recognition backed by home secretary Police trials of facial recognition backed by home secretary
(2 months later)
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has thrown his support behind police trials of controversial facial recognition technology.The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has thrown his support behind police trials of controversial facial recognition technology.
The Neoface system used by the Metropolitan police and South Wales police is supplied by the Japanese company NEC, which markets the same technology to retailers and casinos to spot regular customers, and to stadium and concert operators to scan crowds for “potential troublemakers”.The Neoface system used by the Metropolitan police and South Wales police is supplied by the Japanese company NEC, which markets the same technology to retailers and casinos to spot regular customers, and to stadium and concert operators to scan crowds for “potential troublemakers”.
The technology and its use by police has met considerable criticism. Its use by South Wales police is under judicial review, while the information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has criticised “a lack of transparency about its use”. Tony Porter, the surveillance camera commissioner, last year intervened to stop Greater Manchester police using facial recognition at the Trafford shopping centre.The technology and its use by police has met considerable criticism. Its use by South Wales police is under judicial review, while the information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has criticised “a lack of transparency about its use”. Tony Porter, the surveillance camera commissioner, last year intervened to stop Greater Manchester police using facial recognition at the Trafford shopping centre.
This month, University of Essex researchers who were given access to six live trials by the Met found matches were correct in only a fifth of cases and the system was likely to break human rights laws.This month, University of Essex researchers who were given access to six live trials by the Met found matches were correct in only a fifth of cases and the system was likely to break human rights laws.
The BBC reported that Javid supported the trials at the launch of computer technology aimed at helping police fight online child abuse.The BBC reported that Javid supported the trials at the launch of computer technology aimed at helping police fight online child abuse.
“I back the police in looking at technology and trialling it and … different types of facial recognition technology is being trialled especially by the Met at the moment and I think it’s right they look at that,” he said.“I back the police in looking at technology and trialling it and … different types of facial recognition technology is being trialled especially by the Met at the moment and I think it’s right they look at that,” he said.
The civil rights campaign group Liberty has previously called facial recognition “a dangerously intrusive and discriminatory technology that destroys our privacy rights and forces people to change their behaviour”.The civil rights campaign group Liberty has previously called facial recognition “a dangerously intrusive and discriminatory technology that destroys our privacy rights and forces people to change their behaviour”.
Automated facial recognition (AFR) is technology that can identify people by analysing and comparing facial features to those held in a database.Automated facial recognition (AFR) is technology that can identify people by analysing and comparing facial features to those held in a database.
You might recognise it from auto-tagging of pictures on Facebook or on your phone, but it is increasingly being used out in the real world.You might recognise it from auto-tagging of pictures on Facebook or on your phone, but it is increasingly being used out in the real world.
Shoppers at retail parks such as Westfield, for example, are routinely scanned and recorded by dozens of hidden cameras built into the centres’ digital advertising billboards. The cameras can determine not only your age and gender, but your mood, cueing up tailored advertisements within seconds, thanks to facial detection technology.Shoppers at retail parks such as Westfield, for example, are routinely scanned and recorded by dozens of hidden cameras built into the centres’ digital advertising billboards. The cameras can determine not only your age and gender, but your mood, cueing up tailored advertisements within seconds, thanks to facial detection technology.
Police have also used the technology to scan crowds at events and demonstrations to identify ‘people of interest’. British police have also used the technology to scan crowds at events and demonstrations to identify ‘people of interest’.
In the UK a court action claims that south Wales police violated privacy and data protection rights by using facial recognition technology on individuals. The police force defended their actions saying that AFR was similar to the use of DNA to solve crimes and would have little impact on those who were not suspects. In the UK a court action claims that south Wales police violated privacy and data protection rights by using facial recognition technology on individuals. The police force defended their actions saying that AFR was similar to the use of DNA to solve crimes and would have little impact on those who were not suspects. 
The UK’s biometrics commissioner has warned that police forces are pushing ahead with the use of AFR systems in the absence of clear laws on whether, when or how the technology should be employed.The UK’s biometrics commissioner has warned that police forces are pushing ahead with the use of AFR systems in the absence of clear laws on whether, when or how the technology should be employed.
The pressure group Liberty has denounced AFR as 'arsenic in the water supply of democracy', and the city of San Francisco has already barred the use of automatic facial recognition by law enforcement.The pressure group Liberty has denounced AFR as 'arsenic in the water supply of democracy', and the city of San Francisco has already barred the use of automatic facial recognition by law enforcement.
A crucial argument against police’s deployment of the technology is that it doesn’t yet work very well. It is especially inaccurate and prone to bias when used against people of colour: a test of Amazon’s facial recognition software found that it falsely identified 28 members of US Congress as known criminals, with members of the Congressional Black Caucus disproportionately represented.A crucial argument against police’s deployment of the technology is that it doesn’t yet work very well. It is especially inaccurate and prone to bias when used against people of colour: a test of Amazon’s facial recognition software found that it falsely identified 28 members of US Congress as known criminals, with members of the Congressional Black Caucus disproportionately represented.
The Home Office said it believed there was an adequate legal framework for its use and it supported police trials, but added it was reviewing ways to simplify and extend governance and oversight of biometrics.The Home Office said it believed there was an adequate legal framework for its use and it supported police trials, but added it was reviewing ways to simplify and extend governance and oversight of biometrics.
Javid said police would be given “game-changing” technological tools to bolster the fight against online child abuse.Javid said police would be given “game-changing” technological tools to bolster the fight against online child abuse.
According to the Home Office, the three new tools will help speed up investigations and limit the number of indecent images officers have to view.According to the Home Office, the three new tools will help speed up investigations and limit the number of indecent images officers have to view.
The technology, which cost £1.76m, aims to improve the capability of the Child Abuse Image Database, which holds millions of images.The technology, which cost £1.76m, aims to improve the capability of the Child Abuse Image Database, which holds millions of images.
PolicePolice
Facial recognitionFacial recognition
Human rightsHuman rights
PrivacyPrivacy
Metropolitan policeMetropolitan police
Sajid JavidSajid Javid
LondonLondon
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