People’s victory over Facial Recognition software as it is ruled ILLEGAL at Court of Appeal.
By Tina Brooker
This follows a legal challenge brought by civil rights group Liberty and Ed Bridges, 37, from Cardiff.
The Court found its use was a proportionate interference with human rights.
The technology, which is used to allow officers to compare the faces of pedestrians against a database of persons of interest, is now effectively outlawed until it can be brought before parliament.
Real-time use of facial recognition software has been controversial as it compares members of a crowd who are not suspected of any crimes against a police database, potentially putting them at risk of arrest if the system delivers a false positive
In a unanimous ruling, three judges found South Wales Police had breached privacy rights, data protection laws and equality legislation by deploying it.
South Wales Police said it would not be appealing the findings.
A world first
Liberty stated “our case with Ed Bridges is the world’s first legal challenge to police use of facial recognition.
Ed was scanned by the tech – which ‘maps’ the faces of everyone in range of special cameras and ‘matches’ them to images on secretive watch lists. Mr Bridges, a former Liberal Democrat councillor for Gabalfa in Cardiff says his image was first captured while he was on his lunch break in Cardiff city centre in 2017.
But it was after it happened for a second time, a few months later while he was on a peaceful protest at an arms’ fayre at Cardiff International Arena, that he decided to take action.
“On that occasion the facial recognition van was parked across the street from us,” he said.
He argued that snatching his personal biometric data without his knowledge or consent violated his right to privacy. He also raised that the tech is discriminatory – it is known to misidentify people of colour, meaning they are more likely to be stopped by the police – and its use breaches data protection laws.
The Court agreed with our case, stating that it does indeed breach privacy rights, data protection laws and equality laws and South Wales Police must immediately halt its use of live facial recognition in public.
Now ban it
Following the ruling Liberty state this is a major victory, but we cannot stop here.
There has been much talk of Parliament creating laws to govern facial recognition’s use, but this can’t solve the privacy concerns or correct the tech’s in-built discrimination.
The only way to mend these problems is to ban it altogether.
Several US cities have recognised this and have done just that. It’s time for us to follow.
Liberty have created a petition calling for a ban of this technology Sign it today and share it with friends and family.
Together we will get facial recognition off our streets.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of facial recognition, some would say “if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about – it is a good thing helping to keep us safe”.
My answer to that is – who knows what powers the state will afford itself in the future – the Coronavirus Act I would suggest was a wake up call to many of us – and who will be wielding that power?
Our freedoms and liberties were hard fought for and hard won by our forefathers, I believe it is our duty to protect them and hand them over IN FULL to the next generation – how about you?