According to the Independent, facial recognition technology is causing problems in the United Kingdom – the technology has misidentified members of the public as potential criminal in 96 percent of facial recognition scans in London.
Eight trials have been run in London between 2016-2018, and have cost around $250,000 (approximately 222,000 euro). The trials resulted in a 96 percent rate of “false positives,” alerting police that certain members of the public identified matched photos in their database. All trials are subject to a legal challenge a separate probe by the Information Commissioner, the Independent says.
UK-based Big Brother Watch, an organization that keeps tabs on threats to the public’s right to privacy during a time of technological advancement, including facial recognition technology, asked police “to drop the technology,” the Independent says. “This is a turning point for civil liberties in the UK,” Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, told the Independent. “If police push ahead with facial recognition surveillance, members of the public could be tracked across Britain’s colossal CCTV networks.”
London-based Metropolitan Police said that they are aware the accuracy of this facial recognition technology “has been subject to some debate and challenge.”
For example, Scottish National Party MP Stuart McDonald told the Independent that studies have shown this facial recognition technology “can disproportionally misidentify women and black and minority ethnic people, and…those groups are more likely to be wrongly stopped and questioned.”
The Metropolitan Police said they are having an independent evaluation done on the technology, and the “conclusions would be made public in due course,” the Independent says.
While privacy concerns are being addressed, Nick Hurd, the policing minister, says the technology’s future is promising, and hopes the public’s worries about its use will ease soon. “We are not a surveillance state and have no intention of becoming one,” he told the Independent. “That means that we must use new technologies in ways that are sensitive to their impact on privacy, and ensure that their use is proportionate.”