back to article For goodness sake, stop the plod using facial recog, London mayor told

London's Metropolitan Police force's use of "intrusive" technologies "without proper regulation" could put a fundamental principle of policing at risk, the London mayor has been told. In a letter (PDF) to Sadiq Khan, the Greater London Assembly – the group elected to hold the mayor to account – expressed "significant concerns …

  1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Of course the police dont want a national strategy

    Their current trials allow them to set the agenda without regard to poblic involvement, success/failure metrics, budgets, personnel requirements, data retention, etc.

    How much do you want to bet that after a few invocations of terrorism, this will continue as-is?

    1. unwarranted triumphalism

      Re: Of course the police dont want a national strategy

      Of course the criminal element don't want the police to have the tools they need to fight crime.

      1. Graham Cobb

        Re: Of course the police dont want a national strategy

        I am not particularly worried about crime. I am certainly not worried about terrorism -- terrorists reduced to running people over in vehicles and attacking with knives are no longer a serious threat to public safety.

        I am worried, however, about political surveillance: surveillance of the people protecting my freedoms and way of life such as journalists, campaigning lawyers and even the many political activists I do not agree with. I need to be confident that the police are not returning to 1970's levels of involvement in politics.

        Tracking, watching or recording people who are not already suspected of a crime (or their cars) interferes with our rights of free expression, assembly and political activity and must be illegal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Of course the police dont want a national strategy

      "even in the face of reports it led to 35 false matches and one wrongful arrest this year."

      But they all look the same!

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Of course the police dont want a national strategy

        More seriously... Statistics like that aren't helpful unless they compare it to the Mk1 eyeball.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's how long those organisations hold the data but we should be asking who takes a copy?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Replying to my own post , how passé

      Thinking a little more about this if they passed the data to someone else or another company they could claim they have deleted it but still have access as access wasn't questioned.

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Wrong login

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm AC you don't log in to post AC as you don't have an account.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Imposter

            "I'm AC you don't log in to post AC as you don't have an account."
            How dare you say that, you imposter! That's my account you are using!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Imposter

              I can't be an impostor as I'm anonymous and to be an impostor I have to impersonate someone.

              Q.E.D.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        how passé

        Presumably anyone using accents after 2019 will be tracked as a possible Eu agent / terrorist

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm doomed then, I just can't bring myself to not use them.

    3. Flywheel Silver badge

      It'll be the usual "carefully selected 3rd parties". That's all we need to know.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh that, Chelsea Flower Show v Notting Hill Carnival Question of where to 'trial', hey Amber?.

    I think the MET's recent use at the Cenotaph was a last minute weasel attempt to pretend they aren't being discriminatory/"pre-judging" potential crime threats by using purposely overt Facial recognition.

    It's pretty obvious this is an attempt by Rudd's Home Office at the equivalent of Theresa May's 'Go Home' Vans. Scare tactics to cross-reference images against UK Border databases.

    Also, I'm sure they will use the ruse that if they modify the hashed value of each image, it's not the same file/data either in terms of retaining images indefinitely.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Oh that, Chelsea Flower Show v Notting Hill Carnival Question of where to 'trial', hey Amber?.

      "I think the MET's recent use at the Cenotaph"

      +++Positive Match+++: First Class Stamp Detected on Camera 1.

      (I can't recall if Liz was there...?)

    2. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: Oh that, Chelsea Flower Show v Notting Hill Carnival Question of where to 'trial', hey Amber?.

      This is a valid point because there is so much crime at the Chelsea Flower Show, isn't there? In a similar vein, maybe they should put the cameras in nursery school since so many hardened bank robbers are found crawling in the sandpit or doing handpainting - not.

      On the other hand, it would certainly prove there was something shonky if they suddenly arrested half the exhibitors and many of the customers for violent assault and burglary with menaces...

      I would be interested to hear how many people really think there is more danger of criminal activity at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show than at the Notting Hill Carnival, and what they would say when some poor misguided victim of society commits a crime because all the local bobbies are keeping an eye on the daisies at Chelsea...

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Oh that, Chelsea Flower Show v Notting Hill Carnival Question

        I'd bet that the Chelsea Flower Show is a great place to be a pickpocket. Loads of people, and lots of them from affluent backgrounds, so they're likely to have expensive stuff in their pockets/bags.

        Probably less violent crime than Notting Hill, but on the other hand people can get pretty worked up over their aspidistras...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh that, Chelsea Flower Show v Notting Hill Carnival Question of where to 'trial', hey Amber?.

        Until the event has actually happened, you don't how much crime will take place at either event, unless of course, you are prejudging those attending certain types of events, as you are.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    +++ Don't miss this important snippet from the letter +++

    "Last year, TfL collected Wi-Fi connection data (MAC addresses) at 54 tube stations in zones 1-4 over a four-week period"

    “The TfL Wi-Fi trial was a really good example of a public body coming forward with a plan, a new initiative, consulting us deeply and doing a proper privacy impact assessment… [It was] a good example of privacy by design and good conversations with the regulator to try to get it right.”

    +++ "Following our meeting, it has emerged that TfL will use this data to generate £322 million in advertising revenue over eight years" +++

    "However, TfL should have been more up-front about this aspect of the trial and the financial benefits it hopes to achieve using its customers’ data. This information was omitted from the posters at tube stations, for example, which simply said “Transport for London will collect WiFi connection data at this station to better understand journey patterns and improve our services.”

    "There are risks that some customers might think that they have been taken advantage of."

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: +++ Don't miss this important snippet from the letter +++

      And when ads serve up a side of malware, what then? It's not just a privacy issue, handheld security and liability are involved as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: +++ Don't miss this important snippet from the letter +++

        "And when ads serve up a side of malware, what then?"

        What ads?....

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: +++ Don't miss this important snippet from the letter +++

      "This information was omitted from the posters at tube stations"

      And El Reg's sycophantic write-up.

      Wonder if it was also omitted from the Information Commissioner's briefing?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: +++ Don't miss this important snippet from the letter +++

        "This information was omitted from the posters at tube stations"

        Nothing to do with El Reg. That sentence was in the letter by the GLA, the Greater London Assembly – the group elected to hold the mayor to account – who expressed "significant concerns" about facial recognition technology.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    Senior plod love new laws, except if they regulate behavior of the plod.

    Then they are "Invasive" and "Not able to keep up with modern police methods" blah blah.

    It seems this "Biometrics Commisoner" will be another "tutter" who is basically toothless. A true "sleeping policeman"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I assume Constable Savage was responsible for choosing the Notting Hill Carnival as test site.

    When asked about the wringful arrest Savage replied "He's a villain, sir."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Met has used it at the two most recent Notting Hill Carnivals, but while it claims this is a trial, it is keeping schtum on the details – even in the face of reports it led to 35 false matches and one wrongful arrest this year.

    Perhaps because the number of positive matches were through the roof? One needs a sense of the perspective. A single wrongful arrest, but how many successful arrests? The devil is in the details, not scare quotes.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The devil is in the details, not scare quotes."

      Indeed. Let me point out an important little detail: the presumption of innocence.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        One of the details is that there was no arrest. That was clarified at the time, but El Reg continues to publish the incorrect version.

        Oh, and on the "presumption of innocence" point. The incident was about a court issued arrest warrant. There is no presumption of anything when executing a warrant; the court has ordered an arrest and the court gets what the court wants.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      There was only a single arrest using the technology, of somebody that had just been arrested and released by another Police operation. There were 35 false matches.

      Of course it is unfair to blame the technology - the police may have just decided to stop 35 people for being "in possession of curly black hair and thick lips" and then used the facial recognition as the reason for stopping them.

  8. trpajzlik

    Well,

    one has to be deviant first, then only s/he can become a cop and this is just another instance of the rule. Problem is, that people are absolutely not pretected from them. I would like to know for what reason/based on what grounds and law they are collecting and storing data of/about people absolutely not related to any crime. This IMHO is violation of basic laws for privacy protection, what is crime as well.

    1. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: Well,

      No, the Met are one of the many bodies listed as excluded from privacy and data protection laws so they are violating nothing but ethics.

      The problem here is that we keep excluding all of the worst offenders from our most important laws.

      1. Smooth Newt
        Coat

        Facial recognition software

        It really does mean that a policeman might arrest you because your eyes are too close together.

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: Facial recognition software

          An opportunity for Captain Swing?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm in favour

    It'll fuck up as much as does the current number plate recognition. When I was a sprog, someone stole my ID but back then such a thing could not possibly happen. Consequently, bad stuff happened. Still does.. because it couldn't happen back then. I've given up going "aagh!".

  10. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Aren't we talking about public places here and haven't amateur photographers been trying to persuade police that taking pictures of things that are in public is OK? That would mean we are arguing about whether it is OK to automate something that is perfectly legal to do manually (and whether the automated version is more or less reliable than the manual version).

    As the US Constitution acknowledges, there are reasons to worry about, and limit, the power of the state more than we worry about the same powers in the hands of lesser actors, but we should be clear that *this* is our objection rather than a Luddite objection to the economies of scale.

    1. Uffish

      Automatic face recognition...

      Does Google Photos still try to put a name to every face?

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      The thought occurred to me earlier today that driverless cars are potential surveillance devices. They will have cameras, visual, infrared and perhaps ultra violet, radar, lidar and other detectors. A parked car might be a parked car, switched off, or it might be watching you, watching your house etc.

      We may need a 'switched off means switched off' standard for driverless vehicles.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The amateur photographers are unlikely to follow you home and shoot you when you go into a tube station because their algorithm was crap.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Duvall added that it was particularly concerning that the trial was going ahead despite the lack of a national strategy on biometrics ..."

    No he didn't. He's not American.

    He wrote that they were deeply concerned.

  12. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Of course the police dont want a national strategy

    Police following rules and more importantly laws, whatever next, honest politicians ?

  13. Jin

    False Acceptance versus False Rejection

    It is astonishing that so many people are indifferent to the fact that FAR (False Acceptance Rate) and FRR (False Rejection Rate) are NOT independent from each other.

    The level of a FAR that rejects a twin would have to bring the level of a FRR that rejects the registered user very frequently. The level of a FRR that eliminates the need of a fallback means would have to bring the level of a FAR that accepts nearly anyone.

    No biometrics, whether static or behaviourial, can escapte this inherent characteristics..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: False Acceptance versus False Rejection

      Translation: if you want the technology on an iPhone X to be a convenient unlocking method most of the time, the technology has to be flexible/lenient enough to allow that in most circumstances (False Acceptance Rate), to a point of likely allowing near identical faces i.e. twins to also match (False Rejection Rate).

  14. Alowe

    There's a good chance the Putney Pusher would have been found by now if police used facial recognition.

  15. Alowe

    It's not intrusive if it catches criminals, and if you haven't committed a crime, you shouldn't be worried.

    Just imagine if they had been able to find the Putney Pusher. Or would people prefer he attempts more murders, perhaps on them?

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