Home Office body takes evidence on ethics of police use of facial recognition

Written by Sam Trendall on 4 March 2020 in News
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Department’s Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group seeks input from various parties

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An arm’s-length body of the Home Office is to gather evidence on the ethics of police forces working with private companies on the use of live facial recognition (LFR) technology.

The department’s Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group is seeking input on the topic from manufacturers, as well as past, current and potential users of the technology across both the public and commercial sector. This may include “councils, landowners, and police or security forces”.


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The BFEG has already undertaken an evidence-gathering exercise with civil liberties groups and regulators, and now wishes to canvass opinion from users and tech firms at an event to be held in central London on 30 April.

Attendees will be asked submit either written or oral evidence. Applications to attend or otherwise contribute are open until 17 April. Anyone wishing to do so is invited to email BFEG.

The use of LFR has been in focus recently after London’s Metropolitan Police Service announced that the technology would be put into live operational use at various locations around the city. The rollout in the capital follows a number of trials of facial recognition in various parts of the country, and a high-court ruling that found that an earlier use by South Wales Police had been lawful.

However, a committee of the Scottish Parliament reported last month that LFR is “currently not fit for use” by officers north of the border.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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