Pressure piles on UK to ban AI facial recognition
A coalition of 65 MPs and over thirty organisations in the UK have called for an immediate ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance by the police and private companies.
In a joint call backed by former Brexit Secretary David Davis MP, Liberal Democrats Leader Ed Davey, Green MP Caroline Lucas and former Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti to name a few, the cross-party group expressed “serious concerns” about the technology’s use.
The campaign has been led by privacy advocate Big Brother Watch and other human rights organisations, which call out the UK as an “outlier” on this issue.
As we reported earlier this week, other territories, such as the EU and the UK are taking a harder line approach on the use of facial recognition surveillance.
The European Parliament has endorsed a blanket ban on police using AI-powered facial recognition surveillance under the AI Act categorising use of the tech as an “unacceptable risk”. Several US states are also considering banning use of the technology.
Live facial recognition surveillance involves people’s faces being biometrically scanned by cameras in real-time and compared against a database. In the UK it has been used in recent months at the Coronation of King Charles II, sports events, concerts and central London.
Big Brother Watch also maintains that uses of live facial recognition surveillance in this territory has recently increased in the retail sector and some police forces.
Critics have raised concerns about the composition of so-called “watchlists” which could include victims, suspects, people thought to pose a risk of harm to themselves, and associates of any of those people.
The campaign group also claims that the systems are inherently biased with black men making up the biggest proportion of those flagged by the LFR system and subjected to police intervention.
The Home Office told the BBC that the government was “committed to making sure the police have the tools and technology they need to solve and prevent crimes, bring offenders to justice, and keep people safe”.
“Facial recognition, including live facial recognition, has a sound legal basis that has been confirmed by the courts and has already enabled a large number of serious criminals to be caught, including for murder and sexual offences,” a spokesperson said.
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