Facewatch founder urges government to protect facial recognition as crime-fighting tool (published by IFSEC Global)

Facewatch founder urges government to protect facial recognition as crime-fighting tool (published by IFSEC Global)

Article supplied by: IFSEC Global

THE MINISTER for Digital and Culture has offered reassurances over the impact of a data protection law coming into force next year on the use of facial recognition technology for crime-fighting purposes.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is designed to give citizens more control over their personal data, comes into force from 25 May 2018.

Simon Gordon - Facewatch Founder and ChairmanSimon Gordon, founder of ground-breaking CCTV image sharing platform Facewatch, wrote a letter to Philip Davies MP, expressing concern that the new law could “potentially prevent the legitimate use of facial recognition” to “prevent criminals/suspected criminals and terrorists from being flagged up as well as missing children being found.”…

Read the full published article in IFSEC Global << here >>

Here is a copy of the full letter sent to:

Mr Philip Davies MP,
House of Commons,
London
SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Davies,

I had a very useful meeting with the ICO (the Information Commissioner’s Office) last week and they flagged a potential problem coming in from Europe around the use of facial recognition for crime prevention.

The issue that is causing a potential problem is that the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which are due to come into force in the UK in May 2018 and which include the following restrictions in Article 9 (which can be found at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016R0679&from=EN):

1. Processing of ……. biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person ….. shall be prohibited.

2. Paragraph 1 shall not apply if one of the following applies:
…….
(g) processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest, on the basis of Union or Member State law which shall be proportionate to the aim pursued, respect the essence of the right to data protection and provide for suitable and specific measures to safeguard the fundamental rights and the interests of the data subject;

The problem with this Article is that it will potentially prevent the legitimate use of facial recognition (which might be caught under the term “biometric data”) to prevent criminals/ suspected criminals and terrorists from being flagged up as well as missing children being found.

This is an area where the UK leads the way and is going to become a hugely important technology for keeping the country safe and reducing crime.  As an example of how important it is to reduce crime, up to 1/3 of most major retailers profits are swallowed up by shop theft thus adding around 1.2 to 1.5% to prices.  Facial recognition is already in use or being trialled across the UK in retail outlets, shopping centres, Casinos and public buildings and its use to reduce the need for security guards is set to explode.

It is vital that the UK Government introduces a derogation to enable facial recognition to be used for the prevention of crime otherwise they will be cutting off one of the most transformational crime prevention technologies of modern times.  We believe the responsibility for reviewing the GDPR falls under the Departure of Culture Media and Sport (Karen Bradley) and would request that this is tabled with them so that appropriate action can be taken to ensure we do not get caught by this in the UK.

(As an aside we are starting proof of concepts with facial recognition with the Bullring in Birmingham and also one of the biggest visitor attractions in the UK which is based in London and who are obviously worried about a Paris style attack.)

Kind regards

Simon

Simon Gordon
Chairman,

Facewatch Limited
13/14 Buckingham Street | London | WC2N 6DF
www.facewatch.co.uk

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