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Use of Facial Recognition by Police “Highly Questionable”, says PCC Candidate after landmark case

October 5, 2020 8:46 AM
By Kate Smith
Originally published by Derbyshire Dales Liberal Democrats

CCTV cameras (Hustvedt [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)])

AFR - a threat to our privacy?

Current concerns about a "surveillance culture" are not just around NHS Test and Trace, serious though they are about that. For some time now, worries have been growing about increased use of AFR, Automatic Facial Recognition, by Police. This came to a head in August 2020 when the Court of Appeal upheld complaints by a Lib Dem former Councillor about use of AFR in Cardiff for major events. Ed Bridges, 37, was backed by Liberty, and their lawyer Megan Goulding described the judgement as "a major victory in the fight against discriminatory and oppressive facial recognition".

Says Cllr Kate Smith, 2021 candidate for Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, "This ruling is vital in the battle to protect civil liberties. The unlawful use of AFR in Cardiff raises serious questions about its use by our Derbyshire Constabulary in future. This new form of surveillance is being rolled out without any safeguards to protect us all from discrimination or invasion of privacy. We must not become a society where innocent people feel their every movement is monitored by Police."

It is Liberal Democrat policy that the Government must halt the use of AFR until safeguards are in place. The England and Wales Surveillance Cameras Commissioner, Tony Porter, agrees and says he "hopes the Home Office will update their woefully out-of-date Code of Practice" for Police use of AFR. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee also agrees, having stated in 2019 that "all AFR should be suspended until relevant Regulations are in place".