Met Police retrospective facial recognition system raises privacy concerns

Released: September 2021

A retrospective facial recognition system ordered by London's police force raised concerns about its purpose and potential bias.

London's Metropolitan Police Service is to use a new, retrospective facial recognition system that will enable them to process historic CCTV, social media, and other images when identifying and tracking down suspects, according to WIRED.

Critics expressed concerns that the system, which extended the Met's existing facial recognition capabiilities, could violate privacy, entrench racially and otherwise discriminatory policing, and easily be used for other purposes.

The Met's contract was discovered when the Mayor of London's office published an approved proposal for the system, which formed part of a GBP 3 million, four-year deal with NEC Corporation's UK subsidiary Northgate Public Services.

In an interview with The Register, the UK government’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson argued 'We need as a minimum a single set of clear principles by which those using the biometric and surveillance camera systems will be held to account, transparently and auditably.'

System 🤖

Documents 📃

Operator: Metropolitan Police Service
Developer: NEC
Country: UK
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Identify criminals
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Surveillance; Dual/multi-use; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: September 2021
Last updated: June 2024