The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, says that: “Scanning people’s faces as they lawfully go about their daily lives, in order to identify them, is a potential threat to privacy that should concern us all. That is especially the case if it is done without people’s knowledge or understanding”.
Ms Denham says that she is “deeply concerned” about the growing use of facial recognition technology in public spaces, not only by law enforcement agencies but also increasingly by the private sector. Accordingly, the ICO, as well as the judiciary, are “independently considering the legal issues and whether the current framework has kept pace with emerging technologies and people’s expectations about how their most sensitive personal data is used”.
The ICO has launched an investigation following concerns reported in the media regarding the use of live facial recognition in the King’s Cross area of central London. Ms Denham says that, as well as requiring detailed information from the relevant organisations about how the technology is used, the ICO will also inspect the system and its operation on site to assess whether or not it complies with data protection law.
Ms Denham says: “Put simply, any organisations wanting to use facial recognition technology must comply with the law – and they must do so in a fair, transparent and accountable way. They must have documented how and why they believe their use of the technology is legal, proportionate and justified.” To read the statement in full, click here.