King’s Cross station developer has defended its use of facial recognition technology on the 67-acre site in central London, news reports reveal.
King’s Cross is currently using the technology to record images of members of the public, a practice which needs full justification under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
A spokesperson for the firm underlined how the monitoring was being carried out to “ensure public safety”, adding that it represents just one of a “number of detection and tracking methods” that the developer employs.
“These cameras use a number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition, but also have sophisticated systems in place to protect the privacy of the general public,” the spokesperson told the Financial Times.
No further detail was given regarding the nature of the “systems”, how long the practice has been going on for, or what the legal basis is for using it.
King’s Cross also houses restaurants, bars and shops, and offices used by Google and Central Saint Martin’s College, the latter of which informed the BBC that it was not “specifically aware” that the technology was in use.
The UK data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office has expressed concerns about the potential for abuse of such surveillance technology.
In a statement, the ICO warned:
“Organisations wishing to automatically capture and use images of individuals going about their business in public spaces need to provide clear evidence to demonstrate it is strictly necessary and proportionate for the circumstances, and that there is a legal basis for that use,” it said in a statement.
“The ICO is currently looking at the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement in public spaces and by private sector organisations, including where they are partnering with police forces.
“We’ll consider taking action where we find non-compliance with the law.”
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