Warnings over ‘disturbing’ facial recognition technology

Big Brother Watch called the technology 'chilling'

Friday, August 16, 2019

A British civil liberties group has accused museums and shopping centres of using facial recognition technology to build a database of the public.

Big Brother Watch has said there is an “epidemic” of the technology it referred to as “the perfect tool of oppression”.

Spokesman Griff Ferris told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham companies are operating in a legal vacuum.

“Private companies have been using this extremely intrusive biometric surveillance in the same way as fingerprints or DNA to scan members of the public when they go to these public spaces,” he said.

“This technology should be regulated by the government but it’s been done completely lawlessly by police and private companies.”

Among those the group accused of using the technology is the World Museum in Liverpool.

It said: “The idea of a British museum secretly scanning the faces of children visiting an exhibition on the first emperor of China is chilling."

In response, the museum operator said it used CCTV for detection and prevention of crime.

“The organisation used facial recognition technology at World Museum when there was a heightened security risk during the Terracotta Warriors and the First Emperor exhibition in 2018,” it said, adding that visitors were notified and it is no longer in use.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched an investigation into facial recognition after scanners were found to be in use in the Kings Cross area of London.

The data and privacy watchdog said it was “deeply concerned about the growing use of facial recognition technology in public spaces”.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had written to the head of the Kings Cross development to raise his concerns.

Last month, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said police should cease facial recognition trials until a legal framework for using the technology can be created.

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