The ICO has raised concerns about usage of live facial recognition technology (LFR) by the UK law enforcement community, with the current legal framework not fit for purpose.
In a blog post on the ICO website, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham stated that the “laws, codes and practices relating to LFR will not drive the ethical and legal approach that’s needed to truly manage the risk that this technology presents.”
The ICO has been investigating trials of LFR by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and South Wales Police (SWP), which it says raise serious concerns about the use of a technology that relies on huge amounts of sensitive personal information.
That investigation has culminated in the ICO making its findings and recommendations public in its the first Commissioner’s Opinion, which makes clear that there are well-defined data protection rules which police forces need to follow before and during deployment of LFR.
“The Opinion recognises the high statutory threshold that must be met to justify the use of LFR, and demonstrate accountability, under the UK’s data protection law,” wrote Denham. “That threshold is appropriate considering the potential invasiveness of this technology. My Opinion also sets out the practical steps police forces must take to demonstrate legal compliance.”
Denham also points out that while public support for the police using facial recognition to catch criminals is high, it is less so when it comes to the private sector operating the technology in a quasi-law enforcement capacity.
“We are separately investigating this use of LFR in the private sector, including where LFR in used in partnership with law enforcement. We will be reporting on those findings in due course,” she added.