Use of live facial recognition in public spaces is 'deeply concerning'

UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, has said she is 'deeply concerned' about live facial recognition (LFR) technology, and it has the potential to be used inappropriately, excessively or even recklessly.

Denham is the head of an independent authority set up in the UK to uphold information rights in the public interest.

In a blog post supporting the publication of a Commissioner’s Opinion on the use of LFR in public places by private companies and public organisations, Denham said; "When sensitive personal data is collected on a mass scale without people’s knowledge, choice or control, the impacts could be significant.

"We should be able to take our children to a leisure complex, visit a shopping centre or tour a city to see the sights without having our biometric data collected and analysed with every step we take.

"Unlike CCTV, LFR and its algorithms can automatically identify who you are and infer sensitive details about you. It can be used to instantly profile you to serve up personalised adverts or match your image against known shoplifters as you do your weekly grocery shop.

"In future, there’s the potential to overlay CCTV cameras with LFR, and even to combine it with social media data or other “big data” systems – LFR is supercharged CCTV.

"It is not my role to endorse or ban a technology but, while this technology is developing and not widely deployed, we have an opportunity to ensure it does not expand without due regard for data protection."

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