King's Cross firm denies face recognition use
03 September 2019 17:35 GMT

The developers of a site in the King’s Cross area of London have said facial recognition has not been in use there since March 2018, following a controversy over the technology.

"There has been considerable media interest recently regarding the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) at the King’s Cross Estate, located next to St Pancras International and King’s Cross stations", wrote the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP)

"KCCLP is continuing to co-operate with the ICO. We do not intend to comment whilst its work continues, save to clarify the following matters for the public record: The King’s Cross Estate does not currently use FRT. Two FRT cameras, covering a single location at King’s Boulevard, were operational between May 2016 and March 2018."

The  Information Commissioner's Office has made it clear any software that recognises a face in a crowd and then matches it against a database of people counts as the processing of personal data, whether or not the faces are subsequently blurred out.

It launched an investigation into the use of live facial-recognition technology at King's Cross on 15 August and has yet to report its findings.

"We note the broad debate now underway about the use of FRT and how to balance and combine keeping people safe and protecting their privacy, and the prospect of legal and regulatory developments in this area of emerging technology. In the meantime, KCCLP has no plans to reintroduce any form of FRT at the King’s Cross Estate", said the KCCLP .

On Tuesday, the BBC also reported that the developers said they wanted facial-recognition software to spot people on the site who had previously committed an offence there.

The detail emerged in a letter one of its managers sent to the London mayor, on 14 August. Sadiq Khan had sought reassurance using facial recognition on the site was legal.