The British government is discreetly advancing new legislation that would give police power to utilize facial recognition technology on the UK’s national database of 50 million driving license images, despite the use of this technology not being on the cards when images were collected.
If this change is enacted, anonymity on CCTV footage could become obsolete for the nation’s drivers who could potentially be designated a match for any image collected from CCTV footage or even social media platforms.
The Guardian reports the legislation for this significant move is a clause embedded in the impending criminal justice bill, a fact which has alarmed privacy defenders by the prospect of a continuous police lineup involving all of the country’s drivers.
This automated system would function by aligning biometric measurements obtained from recognized photographs, such as those featured on driving licenses, with images sourced from elsewhere.
This potential source of information available to the police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) is barely alluded to within the bill or its explanatory summaries, which has spurred critique from distinguished scholars claiming that the government is subtly forcing through significant change.
Upon the enactment of the criminal justice bill, it is upon Home Secretary James Cleverly to institute regulations that would facilitate the searches. However, the bill stipulates that he is only mandated to consult with police entities.
Opponents voice concerns regarding the threat this technology could pose to basic individual rights, such as privacy and freedom of expression, and gathering. Live facial recognition technology, which compares faces captured by live camera feeds to a database of known identities at major public events such as demonstrations, is becoming increasingly relied upon by police.
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