Facial Recognition’s Unlawful Use and Human Rights Violations

U.K. judges recently ruled that police had unlawfully used facial recognition software to capture wanted individuals. By digging into their personal data, the courts ruled that law enforcement had initiated a human rights violation.

The issue doesn’t involve the activities of the alleged criminals in this case. It is the fact that South Wales Police scanned up to 500,000 people without consent while looking for wanted individuals.

Ed Bridges brought the case to light after he was scanned during a protest and out Christmas shopping while in Cardiff.

In the ruling, judges urged all police officials to do everything reasonable to eliminate gender and racial bias. 

Police Say That They Intend to Keep Using the Technology

Although the deployment of facial recognition is still in its earliest stages, police departments say that using this software generates results.

During the deployments in question that eventually triggered this ruling, two arrests were made during the first use. On the second one, an individual who made a bomb threat was located and identified.

Critics say that the ruling shows the police have too much power and discretion to implement facial recognition for watch list comparisons, and that now they must shut down. Supporters say that they can continue using the software by making changes that align with the court’s expectations.

South Wales Police reported in 2020 that their use of facial recognition software had generated over 60 arrests.

London Metro Police started using the technology for regular deployments despite the lawfulness of the action recently. Those two departments are the only one using this approach to law enforcement in the country currently.

The Liberty human rights group calls the ruling a victory for those who support privacy and data rights. It fights against oppressive policies and potential discriminatory practices.

So far, this ruling is the only one of its kind that looked at the implementation of facial recognition and human rights.