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Orwellian Surveillance Cameras Face Legal Battle

'Orwellian' Surveillance Cameras Face Legal Battle

Jul. 25th, 2018

KRAKOW, POLAND - 2018/06/04: An operational video surveillance camera (CCTV). (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has launched a legal challenge against the use of automatic facial recognition technology by London's Metropolitan Police force.

The privacy campaigners described the Met's "China-style" facial recognition system, which uses AI software to match people's faces to a criminal database, as "dangerously authoritarian."

"Facial recognition is the latest Orwellian mass surveillance tool to be lawlessly rolled out by the state," Big Brother Watch writes on the campaign website.

"These real-time facial recognition cameras are biometric checkpoints, identifying members of the public without their knowledge. Police have begun feeding secret watchlists to the cameras, containing not only criminals but suspects, protesters, football fans and innocent people with mental health problems."

Companies that make AFR technology claim their systems can match thousands of faces a minute with images already held by the police, the BBC reports. These are typically mugshots taken of suspects who have been taken into custody, according to the report.

The Met argues that AFR technology, which is currently at the pilot stage, will help keep London safe. It tested the system at Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 and 2017, at the Cenotaph on Memorial Sunday, and at Westfield Shopping Centre in June.

The Home Office has spent £2.6 million encouraging police to use automated facial recognition (AFR) technology and the Met plans to significantly increase its use of facial recognition technology, with 7 more deployments planned for the next five months.

Elsewhere in the country, police forces in Humberside, South Wales, and Leicestershire are also trialling the technology.

At the time of writing, Big Brother Watch had raised £5,670 in legal fees from 168 people.

DMU Timestamp: November 09, 2018 23:10

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