It’s fair to say there’s a big tension between what’s technically possible with facial recognition and what’s socially acceptable.
The Metropolitan Police Service in the United Kingdom has announced today (Friday, 24 January), that it will begin the operational use of Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology.
Their argument for the use of the controversial technology is to reduce serious crimes. Most countries use CCTV footage to review events and determine suspects or offenders after the fact, but this live facial recognition technology would identify people in real-time.
The Met has confirmed the facial recognition technology is NeoFace from NEC and works by comparing the footage from LFR cameras to images stored in a watchlist of offenders wanted by the police or the courts, or those who pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.
Police insist that is not a case of technology taking over from traditional policing and that this system simply gives police officers a ‘prompt’, suggesting “that person over there may be the person you’re looking for”.
The system will only keep images that have generated an alert, these are kept for up to 31 days or, if an arrest is made, until any investigation or judicial process is concluded.
The biometric data of those who don’t cause an alert is automatically and immediately deleted. The LFR system also records CCTV footage, we keep that footage for up to 31 days.
Here’s a product demonstration video of NEC’s Neoface Face Recognition System.
More information at Met.police.uk