UK face recognition systems 'dangerously inaccurate'

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UK face recognition systems 'dangerously inaccurate'

Mistakes people for criminals.

The UK's Metropolitan Police's use of facial recognition is misidentifying innocent people as wanted criminals more than nine times out of ten, according to a privacy campaign group.

Civil liberties organisation Big Brother Watch (BBW) published its findings into the Met's use of facial recognition technology in a report that it presented to British parliament.

The Met uses the technology to match people's faces against computer databases of criminals via CCTV and other cameras and they have deployed at numerous events, with very little success, according to the report.

It claims the Met has a failure rate of 98 percent, and during last year's Notting Hill Carnival, that police misidentified 95 people as criminals.

The Met admitted that as a result of using facial recognition it had stored 102 innocent people's biometrics data for 30 days.

Despite this, the force is planning seven more deployments this year.

"Real-time facial recognition is a dangerously authoritarian surveillance tool that could fundamentally change policing in the UK," BBW director Silkie Carlo said.

"Members of the public could be tracked, located and identified, or misidentified, everywhere they go.

"It is deeply disturbing and undemocratic that police are using technology that is almost entirely inaccurate, that they have no legal power for, and that poses a major risk to our freedoms."

The South Wales police not only misidentified 2400 innocent people with facial recognition, it also stored these people's biometric data, without their knowledge, for a year.

"This has wasted millions in public money and the cost to our civil liberties is to high. It must be dropped," added Carlo.

The campaign has been backed by a number of rights and race equality groups, such as Article 19, Index on Censorship, Liberty, Netpol and the Race Equality Foundation. 

IT Pro approached both the Met and South Wales Police for comment.

This article originally appeared at

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