More on FRT

Several UK newspapers have highlighted the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in the Kings Cross area of London by a company called Argent. According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, “many millions of innocent people” may have been recorded and tracked by the system. But now it seems that other mass invasions of privacy may have occurred. The pressure group Big Brother Watch (BBW) has found that a secret police trial at Meadowfield shopping mall in Sheffield may have captured up to two million images without the subjects’ knowledge. According to BBW, a similar system has also been used at the Millennium Point conference centre in Birmingham and the World Museum in Liverpool. BBW has called for Parliament to legislate on this issue which is currently unregulated. They have called this “a privacy emergency.”

Of course, this is primarily a civil liberties issue, but it is of importance to the world of espionage as well. Alex Younger, the Chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, recently gave a lecture about the changing environment for intelligence operatives and how increasing security checks (such as FRT) have meant that spies have to change the way they work. At Spying Today, we have highlighted the increasing use of “civilian couriers” that is part of this response. The outcome of any legislative review in the UK is unclear, but operatives will certainly encounter this technology throughout the world. It is another way in which the world of espionage is changing.

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