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UK Information Commissioner investigates automatic facial recognition use and issues warning


The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating automatic facial recognition and warning that businesses must demonstrate the biometric technology’s use is “strictly necessary and proportionate,” IT Pro reports.

The news comes in the wake of reports that London’s 67-acre King’s Crossing estate is deploying cameras with facial recognition capabilities.

The ICO is currently considering the use of facial recognition by law enforcement in public spaces, as well as by businesses. A representative of the ICO said that laws that came into effect in 2018, which include the UK Data Protection Act of 2018, give organizations new responsibilities to assess and reduce privacy risks from technologies like automatic facial recognition, according to IT Pro.

“Organisations wishing to automatically capture and use images of individuals going about their business in public spaces need to provide clear evidence to demonstrate it is strictly necessary and proportionate for the circumstances and that there is a legal basis for that use,” the spokesperson says.

The King’s Cross estate owners said that the technology’s deployment is “in the interest of public safety and to ensure that everyone who visits has the best possible experience.”

Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter called on government ministers to bring new legislation to address the general public’s privacy and civil rights. Members of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee have called for Home Office to halt police trials of public biometric facial recognition.

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