Police in London are moving ahead with a deploying a facial recognition camera system despite privacy concerns and evidence that the technology is riddled with false positives. The Metropolitan Police, the U.K.'s biggest police department with jurisdiction over most of London, announced Friday it would begin rolling out new "live facial recognition" cameras in London, making the capital one of the largest cities in the West to adopt the controversial technology. The "Met," as the police department is known in London, said in a statement the facial recognition technology, which is meant to identify people on a watch list and alert police to their real-time location, would be "intelligence-led" and deployed to only specific locations. It's expected to be rolled out as soon as next month. However, privacy activists immediately raised concerns, noting that independent reviews of trials of the technology showed a failure rate of 81%.
Have you ever noticed your friends getting tagged automatically after you upload a group picture? Though the technology has now gained widespread attention, its history can be traced back to the 1960s. Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Bledsoe, an American mathematician and computer scientist, is one of the founders of pattern and facial recognition technology. Back in the 1960s, he developed ways to classify faces using gridlines. A striking fact was, even during the experimental and inception phase, the application was able to match 40 faces per hour.
Imagine a world in which you can scan your face to board a train, check into a hotel, order a meal at a café, or even track your food from farm to table. In China, all of this is already happening. Facial recognition became more pervasive this year after the Chinese government in December 2017 announced an ambitious plan to achieve greater face-reading accuracy by 2020. The country also plans to introduce a system that will identify any of its 1.3 billion citizens in just three seconds. Public and private enterprises have rushed to adopt the futuristic, artificial intelligence-powered technology, implementing facial-recognition systems in transportation networks, medical facilities, and law enforcement initiatives.
Facial recognition technology used by the UK police is making thousands of mistakes - and now there could be legal repercussions. Civil liberties group, Big Brother Watch, has teamed up with Baroness Jenny Jones to ask the government and the Met to stop using the technology. They claim the use of facial recognition has proven to be'dangerously authoritarian', inaccurate and a breach if rights protecting privacy and freedom of expression. If their request is rejected, the group says it will take the case to court in what will be the first legal challenge of its kind. South Wales Police, London's Met and Leicestershire are all trialling automated facial recognition systems in public places to identify wanted criminals.
Boston will become the second largest city in the US to ban facial recognition software for government use after a unanimous city council vote. Following San Francisco, which banned facial recognition in 2019, Boston will bar city officials from using facial recognition systems. The ordinance will also bar them from working with any third party companies or organizations to acquire information gathered through facial recognition software. The ordinance was co-sponsored by Councilors Ricardo Arroyo and Michelle Wu, who were especially concerned about the potential for racial bias in the technology, according to a report from WBUR. 'Boston should not be using racially discriminatory technology and technology that threatens our basic rights,' Wu said at a hearing before the vote.