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First British police force challenged over facial recognition technology

AN ARMS trade activist in Cardiff is taking police to court over their use of live facial recognition technology.

Ed Bridges claims South Wales Police “snatched” his biometric data at a demonstration and again when he went Christmas shopping.

Cardiff High Court began hearing the claim against the force today.

They are the first police force in Britain to be challenged in court over the powerful new face recognition technology.

The Home Office has funded Welsh officers in rolling out the surveillance, which civil rights group Liberty says has been used 50 times since May 2017.

Liberty believes it is now used routinely in Cardiff, including at sport and music events like the Six Nations rugby tournament.

Mr Bridges stated: “The police started using this technology against me and thousands of other people in my area without warning or consultation.

“It’s hard to see how the police could possibly justify such a disproportionate use of an intrusive surveillance tool like this, and we hope that the court will agree that unlawful use of facial recognition must end, and our rights must be respected.”

Mr Bridges is being represented by Liberty. His lawyer, Megan Goulding, said: “Facial recognition technology snatches our biometric data without our knowledge or consent, making a mockery of our right to privacy.

“It is discriminatory and takes us another step towards being routinely monitored wherever we go, fundamentally altering our relationship with state powers and changing public spaces.

“It belongs to a police state and has no place on our streets.”

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