Facial recognition technology is "dangerously inaccurate"


Through 50 freedom of information requests, BBW was able to discover that, on average, a staggering 95% of the facial recognition system's "matches" were actually wrongly identifying innocent people.

South Wales Police defended its use of the facial recognition software, insisting that the system has improved over time. "When we first deployed and we were learning how to use it. some of the digital images we used weren't of sufficient quality", Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis told the BBC.

"We're seeing ordinary people being asked to produce ID to prove their innocence as police are wrongly identifying thousands of innocent citizens as criminals".

Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch today (15 May) published a report outlining serious claims about the accuracy of facial recognition tools employed by United Kingdom law enforcement bodies.

I witnessed the Metropolitan Police use automated facial recognition at Notting Hill Carnival a year ago, and while watching for only five minutes I saw the system wrongly identify two innocent women walking down the street as men on the police's "watch-list". As per the data acquired, only two of the 104 alerts generated by the facial-recognition software used by the Police were found to be accurate matches.

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Adding real-time facial recognition to our surveillance state's already worryingly militaristic arsenal would fundamentally change policing in the United Kingdom, and indeed the health of our democracy.

One was matched incorrectly on the watch list, and the other was on a mental health-related watch list.

On 31 occasions police followed up the system saying it had spotted people of concern, only to find they had in fact stopped innocent people and the identifications were false. It was also used by South Wales police at protests against an arms fair.

The UK's Information Commissioner has threatened to take legal action over the use of facial recognition in law enforcement if the police and government can not prove the technology is being deployed legally.

Automated facial recognition (AFR) technology used by London's Metropolitan Police is created to find persons of interests within large groups of people by comparing the biometrics of attendees caught on camera with information already stored on law enforcement databases.

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The use of this technology could breach the Human Rights Act, according to the group.

"Real-time facial recognition is a dangerously authoritarian surveillance tool that could fundamentally change policing in the U.K. Members of the public could be tracked, located and identified - or misidentified - everywhere they go", said Silkie Carlo, the watchdog's director.

While she welcomed both the recent appointment of a member of the NPCC to govern the use of facial recognition in public spaces and the establishment of an oversight panel including herself, Biometrics Commissioner and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Denham also noted that she is "deeply concerned about the absence of national level co-ordination in assessing the privacy risks and a comprehensive governance framework to oversee FRT deployment".

United Kingdom police facial recognition is lawless, undemocratic, and dangerously inaccurate.

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