Face Recognition Privacy Challenge Rejected by High Court
Last month we reported on the “deep concern” on the part of the UK’s Information Commissioner, concerning the growing use of facial recognition technology in public spaces.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) subsequently opened an investigation into the use of facial recognition cameras in one of the busiest parts of central London.
Earlier this week the High Court rejected a privacy challenge to the use of facial recognition technology in a landmark ruling.
The High Court found that the use of automatic facial recognition technology (AFR) by South Wales police was lawful after a challenge by privacy campaigner Ed Bridges who was represented by advocacy group Liberty, according to a report by CityAM.
AFR technology uses a live CCTV feed in conjunction with a watch list of people of interest and alerts the police if anyone of interest is detected.
Bridges complained that his privacy was infringed upon when he was scanned by the system while Christmas shopping.
The court found that while the use of the technology did interfere with privacy rights, there was a lawful basis for using it and its use by the South Wales Police was necessary and proportionate.
Liberty lawyer, Megan Goulding, said: “This disappointing judgment does not reflect the very serious threat that facial recognition poses to our rights and freedoms. Facial recognition is a highly intrusive surveillance technology that allows the police to monitor and track us all.”
Liberty and Bridges said they would appeal against the judgment. Bridges said:
This sinister technology undermines our privacy and I will continue to fight against its unlawful use to ensure our rights are protected and we are free from disproportionate government surveillance,
Fiona Barton QC of 5 Essex Court, who acted for South Wales Police, said: “This is a very important judgment. Not only for the police service and other public authorities who wish to use AFR for broadly law enforcement purposes, but also because of the potential for the wider use of AFR in a broad range of applications by companies and organisations.”