The Metropolitan police has announced that it will begin the operational use of Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology.
Following a two year trial of the technology, the Met has confirmed that the cameras will be up and running within a month, and deployed to specific locations in London.
The cameras will be linked to a database of suspects, to which if the system detects someone an alert is generated, and ff the system detects someone who is not on the database their information will not be saved.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “As a modern police force, I believe that we have a duty to use new technologies to keep people safe in London. Independent research has shown that the public support us in this regard.”
In the trials, 70% of wanted suspects were identified by the technology, whilst only one in 1,000 people generate a false alert. However, an independent review found otherwise, with only eight out of 42 matches being “verifiable correct.”
The announcement has been met with angry criticisms from many civil liberties groups. Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch said: “This is a breathtaking assault on our rights and we will challenge it, including by urgently considering next steps in our ongoing legal claim against the Met and the home secretary.”
In the announcement, the Met confirmed that the cameras will be displayed overtly so the public are aware that they are being watched, and only after consulting with local communities.
“We all want to live and work in a city which is safe: the public rightly expect us to use widely available technology to stop criminals,” AC Ephgrave continued.
“Equally I have to be sure that we have the right safeguards and transparency in place to ensure that we protect people’s privacy and human rights. I believe our careful and considered deployment of live facial recognition strikes that balance.”
The decision comes a week after the European Commission announced that it was considering temporarily banning the use of facial recognition technology in public areas for up to five years. Citing that during the ban “a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed.”
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