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MPs and peers call for ‘immediate stop’ to use of live facial recognition

MPs and peers from across the political spectrum have called for an “immediate stop” to the use of live facial recognition surveillance by police and private companies.

The Big Brother Watch campaign group says 65 members of the House of Commons and Lords have backed its call for a halt to the technology’s use.

Among them are former Brexit secretary David Davis MP, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, Green MP Caroline Lucas and former shadow attorney general Baroness Shami Chakrabarti.

The joint statement is also backed by 31 groups including Liberty, Amnesty International and the Race Equality Foundation.

Police have deployed live facial recognition at large-scale public events, including King Charles’s coronation.

The statement highlights “serious concerns” about facial recognition surveillance including its incompatibility with human rights, the potential discriminatory impact and lack of safeguards.

It added: “We call on UK police and private companies to immediately stop using live facial recognition for public surveillance.”

The statement comes after policing minister Chris Philp announced government plans to make British passport photos searchable by police with facial recognition technology.

Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo said: “The UK’s reckless approach to face surveillance makes us a total outlier in the democratic world, especially against the backdrop of the EU’s proposed ban.

“As hosts of the AI summit in autumn, the UK should show leadership in adopting new technologies in a rights-respecting way.

“There must be an urgent stop to live facial recognition, parliamentary scrutiny and a much wider democratic debate before we introduce such a privacy-altering technology to British life.”

The Home Office said the technology had a “robust legal framework” that has already enabled a large number of serious criminals to be caught.”

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