Surveillance tech

On 31 January and 1 February, for sessions of eight hours each day, London’s Metropolitan Police deployed cameras utilising Facial Recognition Technology outside Romford station. The system monitored all passers-by and compared their faces with a watch list of wanted criminals. The experiment wasn’t a great success. It clocked up just three arrests. Two of these people were released and just one was charged: a man wanted for a breach of a non-molestation order. The police defended the experiment by saying that the public would expect them to make use of new technology to fight crime. However there were numerous protests about the use of the system in local media and by UK civil rights watchdogs such as Liberty (as part of the experiment, the police put up notices informing people that they were under surveillance). A Freedom of Information request about a similar experiment elsewhere by the Met police found that the system had a 98% failure rate. Similar systems are, of course, in use elsewhere in the world, notably at airports. They make international travel increasingly difficult for intelligence officers travelling under cover. The indications from these recent experiments are that they don’t have much to fear. Yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *