The last day of January 2019 was sunny, yet bitterly cold in Romford, east London. Shoppers scurrying from retailer to retailer wrapped themselves in winter coats, scarves and hats. The temperature never rose above three degrees Celsius. For police officers positioned next to an inconspicuous blue van, just metres from Romford's Overground station, one man stood out among the thin winter crowds. The man, wearing a beige jacket and blue cap, had pulled his jacket over his face as he moved in the direction of the police officers.
Facial recognition technology will change the world. Still emerging into the mainstream, facial recognition technology has the potential to reshape that way you interact with the fringes of both the digital and real world. For the uninitiated, facial recognition is a biometric technology that scans people's face, photographs and recognizes them as an individual. Impressively, the technology can identify facial features like the space between the eyes, the depth of the eyes sockets, the width of the nose, cheekbones and the jawline.
OSAKA – Despite advances in facial recognition technology, the police in Osaka still rely on pure skill to find fugitives, with investigators using only their memory to arrest dozens of wanted criminals every year. While other police forces in the world have "super recognizer" units that hunt down fugitives, the so-called miatari (look and hit) technique used in Osaka has contributed to the arrests of over 4,000 criminals in Japan since the Osaka Prefectural Police introduced it as a formal investigative method in November 1978. There has not been a single wrongful arrest. "The best part of this method is being able to detect fugitives who are hard to find in normal investigations," said a senior investigator in Osaka. He says a forensic analysis is an imperative part of criminal investigations, but "we want to pass on the tradition because our job is to make sure no one gets away with a crime."
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.