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London police to use facial recognition systems at ‘specific locations’

London’s Metropolitan Police Service (Met), on January 24, said that it will start using live facial recognition at “specific locations” in the city. The police said that it will verify the identity of individuals, against a “bespoke watchlist” of people that are on its radar. This watchlist would include people wanted for serious offences including knife and gun crime as well as those with outstanding warrants, the police claimed. The police further claimed that each deployment of the system will have its own legitimate purpose, legal basis, and justification covering necessity and proportionality. Japan’s NEC Corporation has helped the London police in developing the technology. Met’s announcement comes a week after the European Commission announced its plans of banning facial recognition technology for five years. It is also worth mentioning that an independent assessment of Met’s facial recognition system in July last year had found out that the system got only 8 of 42 matches right — an accuracy rate of 19%. The assessment had also said that the criteria for including people in the “watchlist” were not clearly defined, and there was significant ambiguity over the categories of people the system wanted to identify. In September 2019, the High Court in Cardiff, UK, had ruled that it was lawful for the South Wales Police to use facial recognition technology to search for people in crowds, as it did not breach human rights or data protection laws. Normalisation of facial recognition? Met’s Assistant Commissioner, Nick Ephgrave said, “We are using…

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