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Bermuda delays facial recognition deployment for national CCTV project

Bermuda delays facial recognition deployment for national CCTV project
 

Bermuda’s government will not be deploying facial recognition capabilities in its CCTV system, at least for now, due to unspecified “practical challenges,” the National Security Ministry announced last Thursday. The news comes as the Caribbean country’s public surveillance project, due to be completed by July 2024, comes under attack from rights advocates as well as political opposition.

Last week, the Bermuda Human Rights Commission questioned whether the use of the technology would be constitutional, warning that facial recognition could have “far-reaching and alarming” implications for privacy and human rights. The organization is currently working on examining the impacts of facial recognition on human rights in line with directives from the United Nations, says its executive officer Lisa Reed.

“The implementation of facial-recognition technology has far-reaching and alarming implications for human rights and privacy, and may be deemed incompatible with the Constitution and international covenants that Bermuda is a signatory to,” says Reed.

Reed also described the legal and policy framework for the use of facial recognition technology as “inadequate,” the Royal Gazette reports.

The facial recognition feature, which is part of an ongoing upgrade of Bermuda’s security camera network, has also come under attack from lawmakers. In April, the Free Democratic Movement (FDM), a rising political party, said that the camera system may infringe on freedom of association and represent unlawful search.

The Minister of National Security Michael Weeks and Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons have pushed back against the claims, promising that privacy will not be compromised.

“The training includes mastering AI technologies such as facial recognition, object tracking, and anomaly detection, which are crucial for enhancing the officers’ capabilities in monitoring and responding to security incidents across Bermuda,” Minister Weeks said at the beginning of May.

While facial recognition technology has been receiving pushback, the camera system upgrade has also been belayed over half a year later by heavy rains and a lack of asphalt. As of April, 150 of the 247 cameras have been installed, and only 60 are operating. The project, however, is on track to stay within its US$4 million budget.

The Bermuda Safe City project is based on solutions from Milestone Systems, BriefCam, NeuralLabs AI, Johnson Controls Security Products and other companies.

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