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Face recognition cameras were used on 36,420 people in just ONE area

Face recognition cameras were used on 36,420 people in just ONE shopping area last weekend, MPs are

  • Some fear the cameras use technology from China and Russia with no regulation
  • Cameras at Oxford Circus scanned 36,420 people against a list of 6,747 suspects
  • One person was singled out by the technology and they were proven innocent
  • A Big Brother Watch spokesman said the police were using ‘Orwellian’ tactics 

Scotland Yard used facial recognition technology to monitor more than 36,000 unsuspecting members of the public last weekend.

MPs were told yesterday that police were using ‘Orwellian’ tactics to scan tens of thousands of faces in public places.

Sited at Oxford Circus, one of the country’s busiest shopping areas, the cameras scanned 36,420 individuals for matches against a watchlist of 6,747 suspects.

Only one person was singled out by the technology and they turned out to be innocent.

Four people were arrested using the technology this month with more than 105,000 faces scanned

In a further embarrassment, a French exchange student was held for around 20 minutes after being wrongly identified.

Critics fear the cameras are a creeping use of technology used in China and Russia, without scrutiny or sufficient regulation.

The claims were heard during an evidence session of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee yesterday.

Silkie Carlo of Big Brother Watch, a privacy campaign group, told MPs: ‘This is an example of an area where police use of technology and data collection has completely outstripped legislation because there is no explicit legislation for the use of live facial recognition at all.

The live facial recognition cameras work by scanning faces and if there is a match an alert is sent to officers who then make arrests

‘I’ve been on a number of observations of the use of this technology in the past couple of weeks and I’ve seen this happen.

‘It is extraordinary. It is something that desperately needs to be examined in parliament.

‘They scanned the faces of over 36,000 members of the public and had not one match, and they had one incorrect match. That individual then had to prove their innocence to the police.’

A Big Brother Watch spokesman claimed that the Metropolitan Police Service was using ‘Orwellian’ tactics and insisted MPs needed to clamp down on the ‘dystopian technology’.

Many rely on Twitter to find out where Scotland Yard will be deploying the cameras but before they installed them on Saturday the police gave just five minutes notice

The live facial recognition cameras work by scanning faces and turning the images into ‘biometric patterns’ like fingerprints. If there is a match an alert is sent to officers who then make arrests. Four people were arrested using the technology this month with more than 105,000 faces scanned.

Members of the public have to rely on Twitter to find out where Scotland Yard will be deploying the cameras. Ahead of the operation on Saturday, it gave just five minutes of notice.

Signs are also erected around the area under surveillance.

A Met spokesman said: ‘Facial recognition technology can be used in a number of ways by the Met, including to prevent and detect crime, find wanted criminals, safeguard vulnerable people and to protect people from harm – all to keep the people we serve safe. Cameras are focused on a specific area.’

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