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Corsight exec argues facial recognition can strengthen new UK venue security law

Corsight exec argues facial recognition can strengthen new UK venue security law

A proposed UK public security law named for the victim of the 2017 terrorist attack on Manchester Arena is set to undergo public consultation. A government release says Martyn’s Law, aka the Counter Terrorism Protection Bill, will stiffen safety provisions at venues hosting large public events, in honor of Martyn Hett, a 29-year-old UK man killed in the bombing of a concert by the pop singer Arianna Grande.

In a piece for TheStadiumBusiness.com, Tony Porter, chief privacy officer at facial intelligence firm Corsight AI, makes the case that Martyn’s Law should embrace the responsible use of facial recognition technology as a crucial tool for improving public safety at mass gatherings. For Porter, the potential inconveniences and privacy risks that come with enhanced biometric security measures are insignificant compared to the damage that an attack like the Manchester bombing can inflict.

“So significant are the capabilities and public safety potential within facial recognition to protect people whilst proportionality protecting privacy,” says Porter, “that the debate is no longer whether it should be deployed as a counter terrorism protective measure but how it can be properly delivered within the context of current law at large events.”

“A negligible degree of intrusion is often a price worth paying for a safe and confident event in the modern era. That is the real world.”

For Porter, the conversation is now about the effective and secure delivery of services. Ultimately, the Corsight AI CPO advises integrity and a commitment to standards from both providers and government partners. “The requisite governance and accountability arrangements should be agreed between the partners and set out in a protocol so that each organization is clear about their responsibilities with details provided as to obligations, expectations, and contingencies,” Porter says.

Beyond governance and a pledge to behave, Porter recommends that FRT deployments are clearly justified on legal grounds, use certified equipment, and operate transparently and meticulously with regard to data protection impact and other risk assessment measures.

“Apply rigorous safeguards, follow existing guidance, consult widely in cooperation with your partners and work in cooperation with the data regulator,” says Porter. In short, be a good neighbor in biometric technology.

Many facial recognition deployments in the entertainment sector have been tied to large events – for instance, in Cardiff, where authorities used face matching algorithms to scan crowds attending concerts by Beyonce and Harry Styles for terrorists and pedophiles. To ensure Martyn’s law does not have a negative effect on smaller businesses, legislators have tiered the law according to venue capacity. Premises with a capacity under 800 will be considered standard, while those above will fall into the “enhanced tier.”

The consultation, which addresses changes to standard tier legislation centered on outcomes rather than processes, opens on March 18. UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat is encouraging smaller premises to share their thoughts, declaring that “feedback will help ensure that Martyn’s Law stands the test of time.”

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