An investigation by i newspaper and Liberty Investigates has revealed that the use of retrospective facial recognition technology by UK police forces has increased by 330% in the past year.
The technology scans a database of millions of custody images, including those of individuals who were never charged with a crime. Campaigners have warned of the risk of innocent individuals being identified by the system, as hundreds of thousands of images of Britons who were never charged or later cleared of criminal offences remain in police databases. Despite earlier denials, concerns about transparency and potential abuse, all 43 UK territorial police forces are now using retrospective facial recognition technology, according to Policing Minister Chris Philp.
In a statement contributing to the article, Madeleine Stone, senior advocacy officer at Big Brother Watch, said: "Police forces' ongoing failure to comply with the legal requirement to delete the custody images of unconvicted people means that innocent people could find themselves wrongly labelled as criminal... We urgently need a democratic, lawful approach to the role of facial biometrics in Britain, and without this, police forces should not be using this Orwellian technology at all."
A version of this article was also posted on Liberty's blog.
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