Facial recognition technology, pioneered by the machine vision sector, is coming under attack in the UK by pressure groups which claim it is “dangerous and inaccurate.”
Big Brother Watch released a report today which said that facial recognition technology used by the Metropolitan Police at last year’s Notting Hill Carnival was 98% inaccurate, misidentifying 95 people as criminals. It pointed out that the force is planning seven more deployments
It further claimed that South Wales Police stores photographs of all innocent people incorrectly matched by facial recognition for a year, without their knowledge, resulting in a biometric database of over 2,400 innocent people. South Wales Police’s matches are 91% inaccurate. The report said that the force plans to next target the Biggest Weekend and a Rolling Stones concert.
Big Brother Watch is taking the report to Parliament today to launch a campaign calling for police to stop using the technology.
Big Brother Watch’s campaign called on UK public authorities to immediately stop using automated facial recognition software with surveillance cameras. It is backed by David Lammy MP and 15 rights and race equality groups including Article 19, Football Supporters Federation, Index on Censorship, Liberty, Netpol, Police Action Lawyers Group, the Race Equality Foundation and Runnymede Trust.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP and Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh MP will speak at the report launch event in Parliament today at 1600.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Real-time facial recognition is a dangerously authoritarian surveillance tool that could fundamentally change policing in the UK. Members of the public could be tracked, located and identified – or misidentified – everywhere they go.
“We’re seeing ordinary people being asked to produce ID to prove their innocence as police are wrongly identifying thousands of innocent citizens as criminals.
“It is deeply disturbing and undemocratic that police are using a technology that is almost entirely inaccurate, that they have no legal power for, and that poses a major risk to our freedoms.
“This has wasted millions in public money and the cost to our civil liberties is too high. It must be dropped.”