Weekly Brief: Reach out and touch… face?

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Over the past few years, six police forces around the UK (including the MET) have been trialling facial recognition tech. It is estimated that Facewatch, the fast-track crime-reporting platform that heavily utilises facial recognition, will have 5000 cameras across the UK by 2022. The public is divided. Polemic articles by The Guardian, respectively titled “Facial recognition technology threatens to end all individual privacy” and “‘We are hurtling towards a surveillance state’, have stirred up a Twitter storm and everyone, it seems, is weighing in with their opinions.

So, let’s weigh in with ours. We think that if you have nothing to hide, you have no reason to worry about Facial Recognition Tech (in the UK anyway… China is a completely different story). But if you are a wanted criminal then you should be very worried! You will not be able to evade the law (or it’ll at least be more difficult). The CEO of Facewatch notes success in this regard in Brazil, where it was used to catch the number two on Interpol’s most-wanted South America list (a drug baron), and a murderer who had been on the run for years. And, as well as identifying criminals and deterring crime, facial recognition tech could be leveraged to find missing persons, which could be transformative! If the tech is in the law’s hands then we don’t care so much about our privacy – I mean, let’s be real, we waved goodbye to privacy when we bought smartphones (which track your location, your friends, your conversations and what you buy) – we care more about being safe. Let us know on our Twitter if you disagree?

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