Two legal actions launched against facial recognition misidentifications

24/05/2024 | Big Brother Watch

Digital rights campaign group Big Brother Watch (BBW) has initiated legal action on behalf of two individuals who were mistakenly identified as criminals due to facial recognition technology. In a groundbreaking move, both individuals are pursuing separate legal challenges to restrict the use of facial recognition surveillance and safeguard people's rights. 

One of the affected individuals, an anti-knife crime community worker, was wrongfully detained and questioned by the police for nearly 30 minutes following a misidentification by the live facial recognition system operated by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). BBW Director Silkie Carlo, a co-claimant against the MPS, emphasised the inaccuracies and potential dangers of facial recognition technology, calling for its prohibition.

Separately, BBC News reports that a teenage girl was mistakenly identified as a shoplifter in a Home Bargains store. The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, described being wrongly flagged by the Facewatch system, leading to a humiliating bag search by a store employee and a subsequent ban from all stores using the technology. The companies that have installed Facewatch include Budgens, Sports Direct, Southern Co-Op and Costcutter. Facewatch has since apologised and admitted to an error in communication with the affected individual. 

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