May 23, 2018

Facial recognition inaccurate in 98 per cent cases

16 May 2018, 03:20 | Melvin Schneider

The Information Commissioner is threatening to take legal action over the police's use of facial recognition technology

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says facial recognition has proved inaccurate overseas and its use by companies here could

A member of staff from the human rights organisation Liberty who observed the Met Police's operation at Notting Hill Carnival past year claimed the technology led to at least 35 false positives, five people being unduly stopped and one wrongful arrest.

Big Brother Watch (BBW), a civil rights organization from the UK that "works to roll back the surveillance state", released a report in which it reveals that the UK Metropolitan Police's experimental facial recognition system is wrong 98% of the time, thus making it virtually useless.

But police have defended the technology and say safeguards are in place.

South Wales Police used the facial recognition software at various events including the Uefa Champions League 2017 final in Cardiff, global rugby matches and concerts.

Typically people on this list have mental health issues, and Big Brother Watch expressed concern that the police said there had not been prior consultation with mental health professionals about cross-matching against people in this database.

Big Brother Watch said it planned to bring its report to Parliament and demand that police stop using automated facial recognition, citing potential violations of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Big Brother Watch's campaign, calling on United Kingdom public authorities to immediately stop using automated facial recognition software with surveillance cameras, is backed by David Lammy MP and 15 rights and race equality groups including Article 19, Football Supporters Federation, Index on Censorship, Liberty, Netpol, Police Action Lawyers Group, the Race Equality Foundation, and Runnymede Trust.

Two police forces acknowledged they were now testing facial recognition cameras.

Automated facial recognition (AFR) technology used by London's Metropolitan Police is created to find persons of interests within large groups of people by comparing the biometrics of attendees caught on camera with information already stored on law enforcement databases.

For instance, a developer of a content filtering AI system may claim that they are able to identify a high percentage of terrorist content on the web, but only when they already know that the content they're analyzing is terrorist content.

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The product used by both police forces is called "NeoFace Watch", made by Japanese firm NEC.

Despite a 2012 High Court ruling that said keeping images of presumed innocent people on file was unlawful, the government has said it isn't possible to automate removal.

"On a much smaller number of occasions, officers went and spoke to the individual. realised it wasn't them, and offered them the opportunity to come and see the van".

But the same system incorrectly flagged 102 people as potential suspects, and authorities subsequently pulled aside and interviewed at least five people during the 2017 carnival and made them prove their identities, the report said.

The first was at Notting Hill, but the person identified was no longer wanted for arrest because the information used to generate the watch list was out of date.

Most of the results generated by automated facial recognition systems used by the police are inaccurate and a waste of tax payers' money, according to a new study.

National police databases are brimming full of people's images - 19million at the last count - hundreds of thousands of which are of innocent people.

What does Big Brother Watch want?

"Should my concerns not be addressed I will consider what legal action is needed to ensure the right protections are in place for the public".

"When trialling facial recognition technologies, forces must show regard to relevant policies, including the Surveillance Camera Code of Practices and the Information Commissioner's guide", it said in a statement.

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