"Informing You Without Watching you."  @digitalprivacy, Mon 09/26:
Ban Government Use of Face Recognition In the UK

In 2015, Leicestershire Police scanned the faces of 90,000 individuals at a music festival in the UK and checked these images against a database of people suspected of crimes across Europe. In the years since, the surveillance technology has been frequently used throughout the country with little government oversight and no electoral mandate. Face recognition presents an inherent threat to individual privacy, free expression, information security, and social justice. Of course, even if overnight the technology somehow had 100% accuracy, it would still be an unacceptable tool of invasive surveillance capable of identifying and tracking people on a massive scale. That’s why we are calling for a ban on government use of face recognition in the UK. London-based civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has been driving the fight to end government-use of face recognition across the country. Police Scotland has reported its intention to introduce LFR by 2026. In particular, the court found that the police had too much discretion in determining the location of video cameras and the composition of watchlists. Images on the PND are predominantly sourced from people who have been arrested, which includes many individuals that were never charged or were cleared of committing a crime. Big Brother Watch reported that at the 2017 Carnival, LFR cameras were mounted on a van behind an iron sheet, thus making it a semi-covert deployment. The Met’s expansion into RFR will enable the force to tap into London’s extensive CCTV network to obtain facial images–with almost one million CCTV cameras in the capital. Another report claims that between 2011 and 2022, the number of CCTV cameras more than doubled across the London Boroughs. And in sourcing images from more than one million cameras, face recognition data is easy for law enforcement to collect and hard for members of the public to avoid. South Wales Police

South Wales Police were the first force to deploy LFR in the UK. Two of these led to the August 2020 court case discussed above. South Wales Police also deployed LFR during peaceful protests at an arms fair in March 2018. In 2018 the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy criticized the Welsh police’s use of LFR as unnecessary and disproportionate, and urged the government and police to implement privacy assessments prior to deployment to offset violations on privacy rights. The United States Congress continues to debate ways of regulating government use of face surveillance.

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