Watching the watchers – keeping up pressure on police over facial recognition trials

Yesterday I went to watch the watchers, as the police continued using facial recognition technology on unsuspecting Londoners at Westfield. I saw the system in action, the police info and briefing, and still have huge concerns.

The Independent has reported on the activity – where zero arrests were made – with more complaints from Big Brother Watch, Liberty and details of the legal action now being taken by them and Green Peer Jenny Jones.

In Stratford I said:

“There’s still a lot of questions about this system. The legal basis for this is still not entirely clear, Jenny Jones my colleague is taking them to court about this and yet they keep deploying it despite not having a legal basis. The information that’s being given out to people here – it’s not necessarily accurate and doesn’t go into enough detail about the information they are capturing about you, how long they are keeping it for, what the purpose of the trial is.

“And I think that’s a really big question. Are they testing the system technically? Are they using it for a real policing purpose to stop crime? Or, as I suspect is it more of a PR exercise to try and get the public used to this system before they have really got a legal basis for using it?”

Watch my video about the problems with the trial here:

The Independent reported on the activity in Stratford, with more complaints from Big Brother Watch and Liberty, and details of the legal action being taken by them and Green Peer Jenny Jones.

I had already asked more questions about this at the Police and Crime Committee earlier in July, raising concerns about a previous deployment, whether images are checked by a person after the system has made a match, and why someone misidentified was searched anyway: