|Blog posted by: Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner|
In this blog, I want to focus particularly about how Automatic Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) is used in law enforcement.
FRT is increasingly deployed by police forces at public events like the Notting Hill Carnival or big football matches, for example the last year’s Champions League final in Cardiff.
Technological advances in the last 20 years have rapidly increased the ability of online systems to identify individuals. These advances can make many transactions straight forward, such as passing through passport control or unlocking a mobile phone but they can also increase the risk of intruding into our privacy.
Technology represents both a risk and an opportunity and this is why I have recently published our first Technology Strategy which addresses these new technological developments and ensures the ICO can deliver the outcomes which the public expect of us.
One particular development is the use of biometric data, including databases of facial images, in conjunction with Automatic Facial Recognition Technology (FRT). The technology has been available for some time but the ability of the technology to be linked to different online databases, with mobile & fixed camera systems, in real time, greatly increases its reach & impact.
I have identified FRT by law enforcement as a priority area for my office and I recently wrote to the Home Office and the NPCC setting out my concerns. Should my concerns not be addressed I will consider what legal action is needed to ensure the right protections are in place for the public.