Calls to Ban AI Facial Recognition in the UK

Calls to Ban AI Facial Recognition in the UK

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A group of politicians and privacy campaigners say police and private companies should immediately stop using facial recognition surveillance, raising concerns regarding human rights, the potential for discrimination, and “the lack of a democratic mandate”.

This statement comes after the government announced plans for police to access passport photos to help catch criminals and aid police in searching for missing or vulnerable people.

Live facial recognition cameras scan the faces of the public in specific locations and compare these with people on “watch lists” who may be wanted by police or the courts in association with crimes.

But according to BBC News, earlier this week policing minister Chris Philp said he wanted officers to be able to access a wider range of databases for images besides those on its national database, which is limited to those who have been arrested.

Campaigners have responded by calling for its immediate ban, with the director of privacy organization Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo saying: “This dangerously authoritarian technology has the potential to turn populations into walking ID cards in a constant police lineup.”

Nevertheless, Frasers Group has previously defended its use of live facial recognition cameras in some of its shops, saying the system provided by FaceWatch had helped cut crime since being installed.

Members of the European Parliament have agreed to ban live facial recognition using AI in a draft of the AI Act (the EU’s legislation calling to categorize different applications of AI according to their harm to the public).

A spokesperson for the Home Office has said the government was “committed to making sure the police have the tools and technology they need to solve and prevent crimes, bring offenders to justice, and keep people safe”, adding that the technology has a “sound legal basis that has been confirmed by the courts and has already enabled a large number of serious criminals to be caught, including for murder and sexual offenses.”