News | Published July 19 2019

MPs call for halt to use of facial recognition technology

MPs have urged police to suspend the use of “highly intrusive” facial recognition technologies until new regulation is introduced.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has raised concerns about the accuracy of the technology in a new report, calling for trials by the police and other authorities to be stopped.

The report questioned the legal basis of trials, and said further trials should not take place “until a legislative framework has been introduced".

MPs also called for guidance on trial protocols to be introduced and for an oversight and evaluation system to be established.

The committee also warned that innocent people’s pictures might be illegally included on facial recognition ‘watch lists’ which in some cases are used to arrest suspects.

"It is unclear whether police forces are unaware of the requirement to review custody images every six years, or if they are simply 'struggling to comply'," the report said.

"What is clear, however, is that they have not been afforded any earmarked resources to assist with the manual review and weeding process."

The MP's said they flagged similar concerns last year but had seen little progress from the Home Office.

The Scottish Executive has commissioned an independent review into how biometric data should be used and stored.

The Information Commissioners Office has also raised concerns about the trials, saying "there are potentially thousands of custody images being held with no clear basis in law or justification for the ongoing retention."

Facial recognition works by mapping police photos through the use of software and then using scanners to find matches.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has indicated he supports the police trials going ahead but has acknowledged that longer-term use of technology could require legislation. 

Authored by

Joshua Sandiford
Junior Political Editor
July 19 2019

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