#privacy: UK watchdogs voice concern over lip-reading CCTV

If lip-reading CCTV is to be deployed, British citizens may be left “cupping their hands over their mouths” in the street.

The UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, has warned that in the future, citizens may have to hide their conversations from CCTV until regulations are put in place for intrusive technologies. 

Porter has warned that more intrusive technology will invoke the dystopian society of George Orwell’s “1984” and see Britain become a Big Brother state.

Additionally Porter raised concerns about new technologies which could identify citizens by their walk, as well as lip-syncing technology that could decipher what individuals are saying from a distance. 

“The capability to run lip-sync technology to determine what people are saying would have a very suppressive effect. It would change the nature of our society,” Porter told the Evening Standard. “People wouldn’t feel they could have a conversation outside. We increasingly see the football manager cupping his hand over his mouth to give instructions for fear of being exposed.

“Just extrapolate that by millions and what it would mean if people knew there was a capability of walking down the town and your lips moving could be picked up and extrapolated into a conversation.”

The watchdog’s comment follow after the UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has launched an investigation into the facial recognition processes in operation at King’s Cross, in North London. 

In a statement, Denham said how “deeply concerned” she was about the “growing use of facial recognition technology” in both public spaces, by law enforcement agencies and by the private sector. 

Porter concludes that the technology could benefit law enforcement and public safety however he stresses the importance “to protect a free and open society and at the moment we are at risk of ceding that to the impact of technology.”


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