Police in London, England have carried out a second test using a controversial facial recognition technology. The exercise resulted in three arrests and approximately 15,000 individuals having their biometric information scanned.
Metropolitan police conducted the operation on July 7 at Oxford Circus, a very busy intersection in London, and claim the use of live facial-recognition technology is part of a plan to deal with serious crime in the Westminster borough, Computer Weekly reported.
The three arrests included a 28-year-old man wanted on a warrant for an assault on an emergency worker; a 23-year-old woman arrested for being wanted for possession with the intent to sell drugs; and a 29-year-old man arrested for possession, possession with intent to supply drugs and failures to appear in court.
While a release from the Met police says that the deployment was clearly marked and that officers engaged with the public to explain the technology, it remains a controversial subject.
Critics, like Big Brother Watch, a U.K. civil liberties organization, say that the technology captures thousands of individuals data without their consent or any parliamentary oversight. Additionally, people have been misidentified and wrongly stopped or searched. Facial recognition has also been criticized as discriminatory.
In a sign that perhaps those on all sides of the political spectrum can agree on some issues, Zack Polanski, a member of the Green Party in the U.K., appeared alongside Big Brother Watch to criticize the test.
“Our use of live facial-recognition technology has directly helped us to arrest three wanted individuals and officers have been able to successfully remove them from our streets,” a Met police spokesman said. “This innovating technology, alongside our officers, enables us to find people that pose a serious risk to our community so that we can keep the people of London safe.”
A Welsh court of appeal in 2020 ruled that use of facial recognition technology infringed on privacy and data collection laws.
Last July, Rebel News reported on the federal government, Toronto police and Eaton Centre, one of the country's largest malls, coming under fire after being caught using facial recognition technology without consent, warnings or notice in 2016.
Before that, in 2020, Cadillac Fairview, the company that owns that Eaton's Centre and numerous other major shopping centres across Canada, was illegally collecting data of customers according to the federal government and privacy commissioners in Alberta and British Columbia.
The first facial-recognition technology test by the Met police occurred in January, resulting in four arrests and around 12,000 individuals having their data scanned, Computer Weekly reported.