Big Brother UK: Met Police Chief Calls for Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition to Monitor Citizens

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (R) and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick make a statement after visiting Borough High Street in London on June 5, 2017, the site of the June 3 terror attack, near to Borough Market. British police on Monday made several arrests in two dawn raids following …
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is arguing for increased surveillance measures in the United Kingdom, including facial recognition, to combat crime and terrorism, however, critics fear the increased capabilities will negatively impact civil liberties.

Dame Cressida Dick, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, shot back at critics of the new facial recognition system implemented by the MPS as “ill-informed”, arguing that the use of facial recognition systems are a price worth paying to ensure the safety of the public, saying that it is preferable to “a knife through the chest”.

“It is for critics to justify to the victims of those crimes why police should not use tech lawfully and proportionally to catch criminals who caused the victims real harm. It is not for me and the police to decide where the boundary lies between security and privacy, though I do think it is right for us to contribute to the debate,” Cressida Dick said per The Times.

“In an age of Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, concern about my image and that of my fellow law-abiding citizens passing through LFR (live facial recognition) and not being stored, feels much, much, much smaller than my and the public’s vital expectation to be kept safe from a knife through the chest,” Dick added.

Last week, the Metropolitan Police began using facial recognition cameras in Westminster, running on NeoFace, a system that creates a list of suspected criminals and scans the faces of pedestrians for possible matches, notifying the police in the area if there is a match. The police say that faces are only stored for 31 days unless a person is arrested.

The commissioner also called for new legislation to allow police to use artificial intelligence including speech analytic software, translation technology for officers to be able to handle the numerous languages spoken in London and “virtual and augmented reality” to assist officers in the field, reports the Evening Standard.

In response to the introduction of facial recognition, the civil liberties group, Big Brother Watch (BBW) called for the “undemocratic expansion of the surveillance state” to be reversed.

“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,” the group said in a statement.

“All the evidence shows this tech makes us less free and no safer. The 93% misidentification rate poses a serious threat to innocent members of the public. The cost to our liberties, let alone the public purse, is unacceptably high. We’re appalled that city mayor Sadiq Khan has approved such useless, dangerous & authoritarian surveillance for London,” Big Brother Watch added.

The use of facial recognition systems has become widespread in communist China, which has installed over 200 million surveillance cameras across the country as a part of its so-called ‘Skynet’ system. In November, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced that mobile phone providers will be required to implement facial scans of users, in order to further increase control on its already heavily policed internet.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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