London police will deploy live facial recognition cameras to catch criminals


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As reported by The Guardian on Friday, London's Metropolitan Police force plans to begin using live facial recognition cameras on the city's streets in the not-so-distant future. The hope is that these cameras will help officers catch suspects or criminals on "bespoke 'watch list[s].'"

Police are primarily aiming to use the cameras to find violent or otherwise dangerous criminals, and the data of any innocents who have their face scanned will apparently be deleted "in seconds." According to The Guardian, the cameras are 70 percent effective at spotting wanted suspects, and "80%" of people surveyed by police support their existence.

Metropolitan police say their systems have only falsely identified one individual out of a thousand as a suspect during testing, but we expect real-world results to vary.

As we here at TechSpot have reported in the past, this type of technology is far from perfect. We can't speak to the effectiveness of the Metropolitan police force's particular implementation of facial recognition, but other technologies in this sector, such as Amazon's "Rekognition," have a history of reporting false positives.

Even if the cameras in question boasted a 100 percent success rate, their deployment is still likely to be met with some stiff resistance from privacy advocates. Indeed, this news has already sparked several heated debates on social media. Many are asking themselves whether or not potentially compromising their anonymity is worth the added security that these facial recognition cameras could bring.

Whether you're for or against the use of facial recognition cameras throughout London's streets, we'd love to hear your thoughts on this news in the comments below.

Masthead credit: Andrey Popov via Shutterstock. Middle image credit: Simmo Simpson, Wikimedia Commons.

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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,167   +6,925
It will be interesting to see how they excuse themselves from "false arrest", especially when the first multi-millionaire or even billionaire is falsely arrested and it splashes their picture all over the evening news.


Posts: 456   +450
I'm not unhappy about this going live.
Then again I'm not wanted by the law (yet) and rarely go out anyway, especially into central London :p


Posts: 1,837   +790
Somehow, I can see False Positives being used as a feature, not a bug.

"Metropolitan police say their systems have only falsely identified one individual out of a thousand as a suspect during testing, but we expect real-world results to vary."
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Posts: 83   +94
We now live in a society that puts Google nests and Alexa's in their homes by the tens of millions. Where people post their lives on social media with pictures and videos to prove it. Where mobiles track their every movement.

The idea that you have any privacy is just that. In reality that boat had sailed. At least this system in London will be used for some good.


Posts: 42   +39
Not happy with this at all. Doubtless the well-used and equally well-worn phrase "if you're doing nothing wrong, you've nothing to fear" will be trotted out by folk who don't seem to realise that this invasion of privacy is on an ever-increasing insidious creep and will probably only get worse. There are similar-looking people in this world. What happens of that situation crops up? Wrongful arrest springs to mind and, despite all the assurances, this technology seems ripe for abuse.


Posts: 1,199   +743
I presume the UK will need to build a database of personal details to compare against. How will they collect this information, especially for visitors to the country? And once they have that data, what will they use it for?
"Finding criminals" is just the carrot that gets the system deployed. There are many sticks attached.


Posts: 17,218   +5,972
"Hail Big Brother"..! !(George Orwell).

Is this the first they'll be using facial recognition software, or merely the first time they're admitting to using it? :eek:

My best guess is that they've been using it, at least to some degree, all along.

This "announcement", is likely just piling on with a scare tactic.


Posts: 21   +14
This will be used, like most of the police power there, to suppress dissent and complaints against the rising multicultural violence such as stabbing attacks, acid attacks, grooming rings, and rape gangs. The UK is in the middle of committing social suicide. Notice how they use a white male as the "target".
Obviously it's nothing to do with security. Of course the Police will have the publicy announced access but naturally GCHQ will just use it to track pretty much anyone, anywhere at any point who is in their interest. If you think this will be used to catch peado's and murderers you're already a lost cause.