Login to your account

Username *
Password *
Remember Me

Create an account

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Name *
Username *
Password *
Verify password *
Email *
Verify email *
Captcha *
Reload Captcha

UK is 'not a surveillance state' says minister defending police face recognition tech

Written by  May 06, 2019

Opposition MPs have debated whether automated facial recognition technology should be used at all in the UK, after a pressure group mounted legal challenges against police use of face-scanning equipment.

Such technology can be used without individuals really knowing it is happening,” said Darren Jones, Labour MP for Bristol North West, warning: “It is not just police forces that are interested in the technology; some councils are using it to enforce certain rules, as is the private sector.”

Jones’ comments in Parliament follows pro-privacy groups Liberty and Big Brother Watch’s campaigns against police forces using creepy face-scanners. Liberty has filed a court challenge to be heard in Wales this month, while Big Brother Watch uncovered that deployments by London’s Met Police in the Westfield Stratford shopping centre resulted in a 100 per cent false positive rate.

“Biometric photos of members of the public wrongly identified as potential criminals are taken without their knowledge and stored on police databases for 30 days,” said Big Brother Watch in a statement. The group added that one of the people falsely stopped by police depending on the tech was a 14-year-old schoolchild.

Advertisement

Police are also continuing to build giant databases full of biometrically scanned images of innocent people’s faces, Jones revealed, saying:

“When the police take someone’s picture and put it on to the PND [Police National Database], it stays there. It does not matter whether they are convicted and go on to a list of people with convictions – perhaps we would understand if that were the case – or they are found innocent or no action is taken against them; their images are kept on the database anyway.”

Jim Shannon, a DUP MP from Northern Ireland, chipped in: “China has apprehended a fugitive and is making him accountable for his crime, but at the same time China uses facial recognition to fence in villagers in the far west of China. That is a very clear illustration of how that technology can be used to the detriment of human rights and religious minorities in a country that, let us be honest, is guilty of many human rights abuses.”

On the topic of the bulging police database of innocent people’s mugshots, Shannon added, speaking hypothetically from the point of view of someone whose face was on that database:

Advertisement


The presumption, “You may well do something someday” is not enough of a reason to hold on to these things. An arrest must be made for fingerprints to be taken and stored, and yet no arrest is needed for images of a person in the background of an event to be taken and perpetually stored by successive governments — not just this government, but every government that comes after.

“How,” asked Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, “can the police and other state authorities be made accountable to the public? I say that because what is happening could constitute a significant intrusion into the privacy of individual citizens whose record contains nothing criminal or threatening, and who are merely going about their daily business.”

Green also suggested, using the example of shopping centre firm Intu and Greater Manchester Police, that where private companies get the benefit of facial recognition tech (Intu had asked GMP to deploy creep-cams in one of its shopping centres), they ought to be billed for it in the same way that football clubs pay for police workers’ presence at matches.

Government minister Nick Hurd gave a short reply to the various MPs’ concerns, saying “how far we go in supporting our police system and our security system… is extremely important”. He added “some of the oversight and governance arrangements are not clear enough.”

“Any government,” Hurd boasted, “would want to support their police system in making the best use of technology to protect the public and catch criminals, particularly those involved in the most difficult crimes… Strikingly, the public we serve and represent continue to have high levels of trust in the police, whereas it has plummeted for many other traditional institutions.”

The minister added: “We are not a surveillance state and have no intention of becoming one”, seemingly with a straight face despite London only being rivalled by China in the number of CCTV cameras per head of population.

Hurd also said it would be too much work for police to obey the law and delete images of innocent people, defending what the DUP’s Shannon had earlier described as an “opt out” system where innocent people have to ask police to delete photos of them.


Dawn of the Code War: America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat
amazon uk


Did you find this article useful? Comment below or follow us on
Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Advertisement

Popular News

May 06, 2020 IT Security News

Popular VPNs Exposed Users to Attacks

Researchers analysed some of the most popular VPNs and discovered that two of them were affected by vulnerabilities that...

May 22, 2020 Cyber Security

EasyJet will be sued over customer data breach

Legal firm PGMBM, a specialist in group legal action, has issued a class action claim under Article 82 of the General Da...

May 19, 2020 IT Security News

EasyJet data breach: Over 9 million customers affected

The personal data of over 9 million EasyJet customers has been infiltrated by hackers, including over 2,000 users' credi...

May 18, 2020 Cyber Security

UK power grid operator Elexon hit by cyberattack

The UK’s power grid middleman Elexon has announced it has fallen victim to a cyberattack, which did not compromise pow...

May 05, 2020 Cyber Security

The importance of cybersecurity for UK businesses

Technology is constantly changing and at a pace which is hard to keep up with, but 'safety first' always applies. ...

May 11, 2020 Cloud Security News

Tips to help secure your cloud data in the UK

In this digital age, it’s not a great idea to trust someone with your sensitive data. ...

May 27, 2020 Cyber Security

UK scared cybercriminals will use NHSX Covid-19 Tracing App to launch attacks

Nearly half (48%) of the UK public surveyed about the NHSX COVID-19 tracing app do not trust the UK government to keep t...

May 28, 2020 IT Security News

UK virus apps highlights tension between privacy and need for data

As more UK and European governments turn to tracing apps in the fight against the coronavirus, a deep-rooted tension bet...

Apr 10, 2020 IT Security News

The importance of security for UK office printers

When it comes to digital security, we tend not to think about printers as they are often seen as dumb devices with a few...

May 25, 2020 Cyber Security

Beware of security threats before deploying remote working

Remote working is receiving a great deal of attention recently for obvious reasons. The world has changed and remote wor...

May 07, 2020 Cyber Security

Three quarters of UK homeworkers haven't received cybersecurity training

As Covid-19-related cybersecurity threats continue to multiply, three in four of home workers are yet to receive any cyb...

May 20, 2020 IT Security News

To VPN or not to VPN for business users

It’s a question many organisations are asking as they work to provide secure and reliable remote access at scale. ...

May 14, 2020 IT Security News

Windows 10 is getting DNS over HTTPS (DoH) support

DNS is one of the last protocols that still runs unencrypted on the Internet. ...

Apr 11, 2020 IT Security News

Tips for testing an IT security experts worth in the UK

There is no shortage of people presenting themselves as security experts. Some of them truly are, the others may or may ...

May 28, 2020 IT Security News

Defence tips to stop a trojan invasion

Knowing not to open email attachments from unfamiliar addresses, or even the email itself, is a vital step to preventing...

Apr 22, 2020 IT Security News

Kaspersky shares 10 security and privacy tips when using Zoom

The recommendations from Kaspersky come following recent concerns regarding Zoom's security and privacy. ...

Advertisement
Symantec Home 120x60

Advertisement