Face recognition tech ‘a danger’ as it tracks shoppers

CONTROVERSIAL live facial recognition technology was deployed by police in central London yesterday.

Privacy campaigners warned of an ‘expansion of the surveillance state’ as Scotland Yard’s van-mounted cameras were spotted near the tourist hotspot of Oxford Circus.

It is believed to be the second time the Metropolitan Police have used the technology since a roll-out was announced last month.

Surveillance: A live facial recognition camera PICTURE: GETTY

The cameras, which compare passers-by to faces on watch lists, would be used ‘at key locations in Westminster’, the force tweeted earlier, adding: ‘This technology helps keep Londoners safe. We are using it to find people wanted for violent and other serious crimes.’

A photograph of a dark blue van next to a sign reading ‘Police live facial recognition in use’, taken near Oxford Circus, was later posted on Twitter by Big Brother Watch.

The civil liberties group’s director Silkie Carlo said: ‘It’s alarming to see biometric mass surveillance being rolled out in London. Never before have citizens been subjected to identity checks without suspicion, let alone on a mass scale.

‘We’re appalled that Sadiq Khan has approved such useless, dangerous and authoritarian surveillance technology for London.

‘This undemocratic expansion of the surveillance state must be reversed.’

During trials of the technology, the cameras were used in London locations including the West End and Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, while operational use began this month at the Stratford Centre.

People scanned by the cameras are checked against watch lists of suspects wanted by police or courts, then approached by officers if there is a match.

The Met claims that the technology only creates a false alert once every 1,000 times.

However, using a different metric, researchers from the University of Essex last year found it was only correct eight in 42 times.

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