The London Metropolitan police have announced that they will be deploying facial recognition cameras for the first time on the streets of the capital within the next month, prompting fears the move will erode civil liberties.
Met police say that the cameras will be operating for five to sex hours at a time, covering a “small, targeted area,” with officers working with bespoke lists of suspects wanted for serious and violent crime being drawn up each time. It comes after recent pilots of the new surveillance technology in London and South Wales.
In response, privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch has warned that the latest technological development represents “an enormous expansion of the surveillance state and a serious threat to civil liberties in the UK.”
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who has long been a civil liberties campaigner, branded it “unwise” on social media. Many people on Twitter appeared to concur with the former minister’s views, with accusations that an “Orwellian state surveillance [was] being forced upon the British people.”
Others jokingly speculated whether new initiative may have been funded by Huawei, the Chinese technology firm causing tensions between the UK and US on their appropriateness to enter their respective markets.
While there were those who wondered why such a move was triggering Brits now when the country had “cameras every corner for 2 decades.”
It’s funny how Brits realising they live in a police state just now when they had cameras on every corner for 2 decades already.
— Pablo Szymanski (@PabloSzymanski1) January 24, 2020
Assistant Commissioner of the Met, Nick Ephgrave, insisted they have “a duty” to use new technologies to keep people safe. Police say the cameras identified 70 percent of suspects. However, an independent review found much lower accuracy.
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