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Police plan expansions of facial recognition across Ireland, Australia, US, Nigeria

Police plan expansions of facial recognition across Ireland, Australia, US, Nigeria

Public officials in several countries are pushing deployment or regulation of face biometrics to improve security.

In Ireland, Justice Minister Simon Harris says he is drafting a report on the use of facial recognition by the country’s police force, An Garda Síochána. According to The Irish Times, Harris is after a code of practice to ensure operational transparency.

He made the remarks Wednesday during a parliamentary session discussing the so-called Recording Devices Bill 2022, legislation would enable the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement.

Harris has suggested that facial recognition in body cameras (and other police systems) would aid the Garda Síochána in sifting through hours of footage to identify suspects.

At the same time, he has recognized differing views on the issue, and said he would discuss amendments with fellow ministers.

Plans to introduce face biometric capabilities into the police’s tool kit were first unveiled by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee last May.

Australia police commissioner wants more cameras

Meanwhile, in the state of South Australia (SA), police commissioner Grant Stevens has called for surveillance cameras with live facial recognition to prevent and solve crimes.

Police already use face biometrics in South Australia, but only to match evidence to historical footage. Stevens wants live algorithms identifying suspects before a crime is committed.

“We would receive an alert if someone we loaded into the system walked past a camera,” the police commissioner told local news publication InDaily.

It has been more than a year since the city council of South Australia’s capital Adelaide passed a motion to prevent state police from using facial recognition on the city’s CCTV network, which is due to go live in the second half of 2023.

US civil rights group praises biometrics legislation

According to reporting by regional news publisher Dig Boston, Kade Crockford, a program director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, is praising the state’s facial recognition bill.

Crockford reportedly said the technology could aid police forces in solving serious crimes. Having ‘An Act to Regulate Face Surveillance’ on the books would make future operational and bias regulations easier to approve.

Despite Crockford’s optimism, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been wary of facial recognition. A commission last March recommended that law enforcement agencies confine the use of such systems to very limited regulated circumstances.

Nigeria plans police modernization, personnel database

Nigerian Inspector-General of Police Usman Baba said Wednesday aa new database of police officers’ biometrics will ensure accurate personnel records to ease their tracking and operational deployment, according to national newspaper Vanguard.

Called SmartForce, the database will be part of the SmartForce Database Management Centre, and is part of a broader effort to digitize law enforcement in the country.

Baba also unveiled a new IT training program designed to educate officers on using fingerprint scanners and facial recognition software.

The IG called for a law enforcement database and associated resources for investigations to be upgraded last year.

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