In a sign of the technology’s divisiveness, even the head of a neighboring police force said he opposed it. « In a sign of the technology’s divisiveness, even the head of a neighboring police force said he opposed it. The real-time surveillance being tested in Britain is among the more aggressive uses of facial recognition in Western democracies and raises questions about how the technology will enter people’s daily lives. Authorities and companies are eager to use it, but activists warn it threatens human rights.
The British have long become used to video surveillance, with one of the highest densities of CCTV cameras in the world. Cameras have been used in public spaces for decades by security forces fighting threats from the Irish Republican Army and, more recently, domestic terror attacks after Sept. The recent advances in surveillance technology mean a new wave of facial recognition systems will put the public’s acceptance to the test. South Wales police have taken the lead in Britain.
The van-mounted cameras, using technology by Japan’s NEC, scan faces in crowds and match them up with a “watchlist,” a database mainly of people wanted for or suspected of a crime. If the system flags up someone passing by, officers stop that person to investigate further, according to the force’s website. Rights groups say this kind of monitoring raises worries about privacy, consent, algorithmic accuracy, and questions about about how faces are added to watchlists. It’s “an alarming example of overpolicing,” said Silkie Carlo, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.
“We’re deeply concerned about the undemocratic nature of it. They ended up fining him for a public order offence , the group said . » They were introduced in 2012 to improve accountability. “I’m uncomfortable at this creeping interference with our privacy,” Jones, himself a former police officer, said in an interview.
Michael said Jones’ criticism was based on misunderstanding of the technology and extensive scrutiny the police faced. “It is incomprehensible that Arfon Jones should not support measures which keep football fans safe,« Michael said. “There has not been one single wrongful arrest as a result of the use of facial recognition by South Wales Police,» Michael said. Six others were arrested.
“In laboratory conditions it’s really effective,” but less accurate on the streets, said Pete Fussey, a professor at the University of Essex who monitored the London police trials. He co-authored a report last year that said only eight of 42 matches were correct. Critics in the U.S., including politicians, want to ban or curtail facial recognition over racial discrimination fears. Some point to China’s vast networks of street cameras to monitor ethnic minorities.
Britain is the world’s fourth most camera-dense country, with one security camera per 6.5 people, according to IHS Markit. London is the fifth most surveilled city in the world, and one of only two non-Asian cities in the top 10, according to a report by Comparitech. Denham is investigating its use by police and private companies. Store owners and landlords are among those keen to use the technology to spot shoplifters and abusive customers.
British startup Facewatch sells a security system to retailers like convenience store chain Budgens that “matches faces against known offenders within seconds of them entering your premises” and sends instant alerts.
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