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Automated facial recognition - South Wales Police

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Automated facial recognition - South Wales Police



Biometrics Commissioner response to court judgment on South Wales Police's use of automated facial recognition technology.


The High Court in Cardiff has now found that South Wales Police’s use to date of automated facial recognition (AFR) has been consistent with the requirements of the Human Rights Act and data protection legislation. It also found that the current legal regime is adequate to ensure the appropriate and non-arbitrary use of the AFR system that has been used in trials by South Wales Police. It should be noted that this is a judgment in the first instance and that the claimant now intends to appeal. This is not surprising given the fundamental rights at stake and that, as is stated in the judgment, this is the first time that any court in the world has considered AFR.


The judgment itself considers solely the use of AFR by the police rather than any other public or indeed private bodies. Moreover, the judgment is specific to the particular circumstances in which South Wales Police used their AFR system. Whilst South Wales Police should be commended for the thoughtful, considered way in which they have carried out their trials to date there remains a wider issue, which is not limited to whether there is a legal basis for the police to carry out trials of AFR. The bigger question going forward is whether there should be a specific legal framework for the police (and others) to routinely deploy new biometrics including AFR but also voice recognition, gait analysis, iris analysis or other new biometric technologies as they emerge. The judgment in this case does not provide the answer to this, which is, in my view, for Ministers and Parliament to decide.


READ MORE HEREhttps://www.gov.uk/government/news/automated-facial-recognition

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