Met Slammed for Using Dodgy Facial Recognition Cameras

The Metropolitan Police force has come in for more heavy criticism over its use of wildly inaccurate facial recognition cameras in central London this week.

The Met claimed in a news alert that it is deploying the cameras in Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to reduce crime in the area.

It said that all the faces on the database used in the trial are of wanted suspects and anyone who declines to be scanned won’t be viewed as suspicious. The force added that there will be a “clear uniformed presence” alongside posters and leaflets being disseminated to let the public know what’s happening.

However, campaigners claim the Met isn’t being completely honest. Tweets from rights group Liberty revealed that the cameras are attached to unmarked vans, there are only three small signs to inform the public and no leaflets were actively being handed out when they turned up.

“Met press release said ‘Anyone who declines to be scanned during the deployment will not be viewed as suspicious by police officers’ - but officer in charge says people will be if they cover their faces,” the group tweeted. “The public cannot opt out. WE HAVE BEEN MISLED.”

Big Brother Watch revealed in May that police FOI responses showed facial recognition technology trials had been 98% inaccurate. It said that this figure has now risen to 100% in the months since.

In June it teamed up with Baroness Jenny Jones to launch a crowdfunded legal challenge against use of the tech by the Met and Home Office. The ICO has also expressed “deep concern” at the lack of a regulatory framework, and the surveillance camera commissioner in October forced Greater Manchester Police to halt a six-month use of cameras in a shopping center.

“The police’s use of this authoritarian surveillance tool in total absence of a legal or democratic basis is alarming. Live facial recognition is a form of mass surveillance that, if allowed to continue, will turn members of the public into walking ID cards,” argued Big Brother Watch director, Silkie Carlo.

“As with all mass surveillance tools, it is the general public who suffer more than criminals. The fact that it has been utterly useless so far shows what a terrible waste of police time and public money it is. It is well overdue that police drop this dangerous and lawless technology.”

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