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UK Court rules in favour of Welsh police’s use of automatic facial recognition

Image representing facial recogntition

In potentially the first case of its kind, the High Court in Cardiff, UK, on September 4 ruled (judgement available below) that it is lawful for police to use facial recognition technology to search for people in crowds. The judges said that the use of Automatic Facial Recognition (AFR) technology by South Wales Police (SWP), which has deployed this technology on 50 occasions, was lawful and did not breach human rights or data protection laws. The bench also said that the UK’s current laws were enough to deal with any concerns about breach of privacy rights. The petitioner will appeal the decision, according to multiple reports. What did the court say? The court ruled: SWP’s use of the technology complied with the Human Rights Act. Although there was potential of breaching the rights of the people whose images were taken, SWP’s actions of collecting and processing were legal and fulfilled the conditions set out in the Data Protection Act 2018. Unless a person matched a person on a watchlist, all data related to them was deleted immediately after processing. “[T]he current legal regime is adequate to ensure appropriate and non-arbitrary” use of AFR Locate. What brought up this case? An activist, Ed Bridges, brought up this case after he believed that his face was scanned by the SWP twice. His case was backed by human rights group, Liberty, that said that the use of the technology breached his rights and data protection laws. Bridges argued: No proper legal safeguards governing…

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