Landmark hearing finds facial recognition technology lawful

The High Court today ruled in favour of the South Wales Police to allow the continued use of Automated Facial Recognition (AFR) – the controversial technology which enables mass crowd surveillance, in response to a judicial review held in May by local man, Ed Bridges.

Jason Tooley, chief revenue officer at Veridium and board member of techUK said the win was a victory for technology innovation, but that the effectiveness of facial recognition technology continues being challenged.

“As police forces recognise that biometrics can drive improved policing, there is evidently a need to focus on how the technology can be implemented quickly by officers whilst gaining widespread public acceptance. The use of biometrics has been proven to greatly enhance identity verification at scale, as seen in many countries where officers currently use consumer technology to verify suspects on-demand,” he commented.

Today’s decision comes as the UK Home Office planning to funnel £97m into a wider biometric technology strategy.

“As part of a broader digital policing initiative, it is imperative for police forces to take a strategic approach as they trial biometric technologies, and not prematurely focus on one biometric approach,” Tooley added. “Digital fingerprint based authentication is still widely regarded as having a higher level of maturity. It delivers a lower false positive result and ensures a higher level of public consent due to its maturity as an identity verification technique. Facial recognition, when used as a stand-alone biometric, can suffer from the risk of challenge or refusal to accept, with issues such as gender and racial bias, or scenarios such as poor lighting and wearing accessories impacting on reliability.”

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