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Big Brother Watch condemns London Mayor for allowing police to use facial recognition

CONTROVERSIAL facial-recognition technology was deployed today for the second time in London — triggering a civil liberties group to criticise Sadiq Khan for allowing its use.

The Metropolitan Police deployed a van with live facial-recognition cameras to Oxford Circus, saying that it was to tackle serious crime.

Big Brother Watch, in observing the operation that lasted around four hours, said that two young black men — who were “innocent and later released” — were stopped, handcuffed, searched and asked for their IDs.

The technology was first used operationally by the Met last week in Stratford, east London, to “reduce the level of knife injury victims aged under 25.”

Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo told the Star: “Police use of facial recognition is in Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s domain and he appears to give it his blessing. It shows a lack of leadership and regard for people’s fundamental rights.”

Ms Carlo warned that using the technology in London will increase tensions between police and the public, as there has “always been an element of profiling and targeting” associated with its use.

She also said that there has never been a full parliamentary debate about the use of the technology that has had a 93 per cent rate of false-positive results.

Ms Carlo described police use of facial recognition as a “stress test” to see if the public will tolerate “giving up so much of their civil liberties.”

“That’s why it’s so important to resist it now," she added.

Police Scotland has said that it has put facial-recognition plans on hold after Holyrood agreed there was no justification to use it given concerns over human rights and policing by consent.

A Big Brother Watch petition can be found here:


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