ICO opines on UK police use of live facial-recognition tech
06 November 2019 18:46 GMT

The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office released an opinion on the use of live facial-recognition technology by police departments.

The Commissioner,Elizabeth Denham, has previously expressed her views about the risks to the rights and freedoms of individuals arising from the disproportionate use of live facial recognition (LFR), unnecessary intrusion into individuals’ daily lives and the potential detriment this could cause, eg unwarranted police intervention.

In addition, the Commissioner has blogged about how data protection law applies to the processing of such biometric data. The ICO has produced this Opinion in relation to our regulation of the processing of personal data which takes place whenever law enforcement organisations deploy facial recognition technology in public spaces.

Denham said the key messages in this opinion included that the use of LFR involves the processing of personal data and therefore data protection law applies, whether it is for a trial or routine operational deployment. 

"Data protection law applies to the whole process of LFR, from consideration about the necessity and proportionality for deployment, the compilation of watchlists, the processing of the biometric data through to the retention and deletion of that data".

The ICO had investigated the Metropolitan Police Service and South Wales Police’s LFR trials. U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wrote in a blog post that the absence of a statutory code will “increase the likelihood of legal failures and undermine public confidence” when the tech is used, which also led to the ICO’s opinion on the technology.