MPs are dangerously misinformed about facial recognition – Report


Most UK lawmakers are unaware or misinformed about how and where facial recognition technology (FRT) is used, as well as the threats it poses to privacy, according to a new study from Privacy International.

The rights group commissioned YouGov to question 114 British MPs about the technology, which uses AI to extract biometric data from facial images captured by CCTV cameras, then attempts to compare them to recordings shown on a watch list.

The study found that more than two thirds (70%) of responding MPs do not know whether FRT is being rolled out in their constituencies and more than half either do not know (34%) or wrongly believe (24%) ) that there is a law governing its deployment. to use.

Only a third (35%) know that FRT poses a threat to human rights such as the right to protest, the study found.

Read more from FRT: Privacy groups alarmed by supermarket facial recognition trial

FRT has been banned in 16 US cities, including San Francisco, and Europe’s upcoming AI law will impose severe restrictions on its use – banning live facial recognition in public spaces and allowing “post” FRT only for the prosecution of serious crimes after judicial authorization.

However, the UK’s regulatory response has so far been poor, Privacy International has argued. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) called several years ago for introduction of a statutory code practice to determine when and how the FRT should be deployed.

In the absence of concrete guidelines, police and private sector companies continue to use this technology. South Wales Police continue to use FRT even after lose a court case which ruled that its previous deployment was illegal.

“It is very worrying that your MP is unlikely to know whether the FRT is deployed in your constituency. And it is very worrying that most MPs we interviewed seem to think that there is already FRT legislation,” said Privacy International advocacy officer Josie Thum.

“Let’s be clear, that’s not the case. This means that highly intrusive surveillance technology is becoming integrated and normalized in our supposedly democratic society, without any proper safeguards or protections. Our MPs are asleep at the wheel, violating everyone’s privacy in public, and they need to wake up. We must act before it is too late.

International Privacy threw a new awareness campaign to help reignite public debate on the issue and encourage members of the public to hold their MPs to account over the use of FRT.

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