London police to use face scan tech, stoking privacy fears


LONDON (AP) – London police say they will start using live facial recognition cameras in operational deployments, in a major advance for the controversial technology.

The Metropolitan Police Service said Friday it will use the cameras to automatically scan the faces of people passing through small targeted areas where intelligence suggests serious offenders will be found.

Real-time crowd surveillance by police in the British capital is among the more aggressive uses of facial recognition in modern democracies and raises questions about how the technology will enter people’s daily lives. Rights groups said the London police deployment threatens civil liberties such as the right to privacy and represents an expansion of surveillance.

London police said the facial recognition system, which runs on technology from Japan’s NEC, looks for faces in crowds to see if they match any on “watchlists” of people wanted for serious and violent offences, including gun and knife crimes and child sexual exploitation.

FILE – In this file photo dated Wednesday, March 28, 2012, a security cctv camera is seen by the Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Park in London. The South Wales police deployed facial recognition surveillance equipment on Sunday Jan. 12, 2020, in a test to monitor crowds arriving for a weekend soccer match in real-time, that is prompting public debate about possible aggressive uses of facial recognition in Western democracies, raising questions about human rights and how the technology may enter people’s daily lives in the future. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, FILE)