Liberty sues police to block facial recognition
Publish date: 22 May 2019
Issue Number: 4702
Diary: Legalbrief Today
The use of ‘dystopian’ new facial recognition technology by British police is to be challenged in the courts for the first time. A report in The Daily Telegraph notes that Liberty, the human rights group, has launched a case against South Wales police, the UK force which has pioneered technology capable of mapping faces and comparing them to a database in real time. Supporters claim facial recognition technology will boost the safety of citizens and could help police catch criminals and potential terrorists. Critics have labelled it ‘Orwellian’ and say police have not been transparent about how it will use people's data. The case, which is under way in the Cardiff Administrative Court, was brought by Cardiff resident Ed Bridges, a former LibDem councillor and employee of Cardiff University. Bridges, who claims that South Wales police scanned his face twice in public, said: ‘The police are supposed to protect us and make us feel safe but the technology is intimidating and intrusive.’ Liberty's lawyers will argue that the use of the technology breaches the right to privacy and is more likely to be used to stop people from black and minority ethnic groups. South Wales Police says its use of facial recognition technology is ‘lawful and proportionate’. Last week, San Francisco became the first city to ban police facial recognition technology under a new surveillance Bill, which restricts official use of new technologies and forbids facial recognition cameras completely.