Response to announcement on Live Facial Recognition

A response to the announcement by the Metropolitan Police that they will begin the operational use of Live Facial Recognition

The Metropolitan Police Service has announced that it will begin the operational use of Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology. This is a step-change in the use LFR by the UK police, given that the technology will be deployed fully operationally rather than on a trial basis.

The Metropolitan Police have stated that they have the right safeguards and transparency in place to ensure that they protect people’s privacy and human rights. They have also published a “legal mandate”. It is difficult to comment further on this until we have an actual deployment and we are able to scrutinise the details of that deployment.

It should be noted that the published legal mandate references the recent judgment of the High Court in Cardiff on the use of LFR by South Wales Police. Although the court found South Wales’ use of LFR to be consistent with the requirements of the Human Rights Act and data protection legislation that judgment was specific to the particular circumstances in which South Wales Police used their LFR system. The Metropolitan Police will need to pay attention to those circumstances to which the court drew attention.

It should also be noted that the South Wales decision is now being appealed and that the new government gave a manifesto commitment to provide a strict legal framework to govern the future police use of biometrics and artificial intelligence.

Biometrics Commissioner