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18 Jun, 2021 15:09

UK's ICO warns over risks of live facial recognition in public

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The UK’s chief data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office, has warned over reckless and inappropriate use of live facial recognition (LFR) in public places as it could risk mass data collection.

The information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said in a statement on Friday that a number of investigations already undertaken by her office into planned applications of the tech have found problems in all cases.

"I am deeply concerned about the potential for live facial recognition (LFR) technology to be used inappropriately, excessively or even recklessly. When sensitive personal data is collected on a mass scale without people’s knowledge, choice or control, the impacts could be significant," she warned in a blog post.

"Uses we’ve seen included addressing public safety concerns and creating biometric profiles to target people with personalised advertising.

"Unlike CCTV, LFR and its algorithms can automatically identify who you are and infer sensitive details about you. It can be used to instantly profile you to serve up personalised adverts or match your image against known shoplifters as you do your weekly grocery shop."

Already across Europe there are campaigns - such as Reclaim your Face - calling for a ban on biometric mass surveillance. In the US, Privacy International, among others, took legal action against facial recognition company Clearview AI.

For now, companies seeking to implement LFR in the UK must comply with provisions in the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation, per the ICO opinion.

"Organisations will need to demonstrate high standards of governance and accountability from the outset, including being able to justify that the use of LFR is fair, necessary and proportionate in each specific context in which it is deployed. They need to demonstrate that less intrusive techniques won’t work," said Denham. "These are important standards that require robust assessment."


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Pilling and Co Stockbrokers Ltd. is not responsible for the content or accuracy of third party news articles and we may not share the views of the author or publisher.

We provide third party news for your convenience and information only and make no representation or endorsement whatsoever and hereby exclude all liability for any loss or damage that may be incurred by you as a result of your access or use. Please note that third party content may be subject to terms and conditions imposed by the third party owner of that content.