back to article UK peers: Is this what you call governance of facial recog tech? A 'few scattered papers'!

British cops’ use of automated facial recognition technology has come under fire from peers, with the Greens’ Jenny Jones calling on the government for an immediate ban. Speaking in a House of Lords debate, Jones said that there were “very real concerns” about the use of the technology, asserting that the UK was “moving into …

  1. Bill M

    Big Brother IS watching you

    I am not a number I am a free man

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Big Brother IS watching you

      I am not a number I am a free man

      Sure you are RM35M4419.

      1. Robert Forsyth
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Big Brother IS watching you

        Actually 63386 and you are 52670.

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Big Brother IS watching you

          "Actually 63386 and you are 52670."

          Well played, 2920, well played.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Gimp

      I am not a number I am a free man

      Not to these people you're not.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They'll probably be too busy watching this repeat criminal.

      Details of Ireland's 'most reckless driver'. He had amassed speeding tickets and parking fines. Each time the serial offender was stopped he managed to evade justice by giving a different address.

      It was discovered that the man the Irish police had been looking for was a Mr Prawo Jazdy. Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for "driving licence" and not the first and surname on the licence.

      Police decided to check and see how many times officers have made this mistake.

      The system had created Prawo Jazdy as a person with over 50 identities.

      (It's an old story, but I doubt any lessons have been learnt, in terms of today's biometric data)

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7899171.stm

    4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Big Brother IS watching you

      I am not a number I am a free man

      I am 0800. I am not a man, I am a free number

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Big Brother IS watching you

      .. and not at all a Green Peer I presume?

  2. Teiwaz Silver badge

    “What we have at the moment is a make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach or “do as you want as long as you don’t get caught”,” he said.

    When they do get caught, a vaguely worded bill gets whipped through to make it all legal and things carry on until some other ruling deems the legislation is illegal, then they keep doing it while another bill gets drafted to quickly and clumsily paper over the troublesome bits.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Maybe it's about time doing things that are illegal was made a criminal offence ?

      1. PaulR79

        @Adrian 4 - That'll never catch on. Imagine how empty Parliament would be with such laws!

  3. B83

    Fight back

    When will the general public start fighting back. Its scary what can be done with tech. Who\what will be the spark that makes joe public go "no more".

    If the government gets its way its1984 for ever more.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Fight back

      It won't be any spark from the general public. It will be the first time an MP or Minister gets nicked in error, so don't hold your breath.

    2. Crisp Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Fight back

      I am fighting back. Every 3 months I smack myself in the face with a frying pan.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1984

      Especially when your Echo ** suddenly becomes your always on 'Telescreen' and everything you do and say in your home is sent to the NSA (for later transmission to GCHQ). and please note that watching boxed sets of "Yes Minister" is not an opt-out from the data collection.

      ** Other home spying equipment is also available for you to purchase.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: 1984

        Especially when your Echo ** suddenly becomes your always on 'Telescreen'

        Why "when"? It already is - Alexa is included in the new Fire TV kit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ETRIFOW/ref=nav_shopall_k_FTVS

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: 1984

          Why "when"? It already is

          You have to hold down the microphone button on the remote to speak to Alexa. At least that's what she tells me, and that's what she's trained me to do.

    4. watchingthewatchers

      Re: Fight back

      Big Brother Watch is fighting back -> https://twitter.com/bbw1984

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fear that you can be recognised by the mostly shite low quality cctv available in the UK. Fear is great at making the people follow rules. The problem they have is when people realise the tech doesn't match up to the ability people fear they have.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Fear that you can be wrongly recognised by the mostly shite low quality cctv available in the UK.

      FTFY

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        True but have you seen the state of CCTV? If you need examples just think of every missing person and the inevitable grainy useless CCTV they release. Unless of course that's what they want us to think.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fear that you can be wrongly recognised by the mostly shite low quality cctv available in the UK.

        At least that's easy to correct, once you actually show them your face.

        1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

          "At least that's easy to correct, once you actually show them your face."

          How do you prove you're not the person in the image if the quality is so bad it produces a false positive in the first place? If you don't have a plausible alibi you'll be assumed to be correctly identified.

        2. Remy Redert

          That would be after the prosecutor gets to see the images over which you were arrested, 3 months into the trial after a year+ of detention?

        3. Rich 11 Silver badge

          At least that's easy to correct, once you actually show them your face.

          Every time there's a knock at the door I curse the quirk of genetics that has given me sixty-four medium-grey pixels for a face.

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Judging by the videos on reality TV cop shows and YouTube, I would say most people don't even seem to know they are on camera most of the time...

      1. Kane Silver badge

        "Judging by the videos on reality TV cop shows and YouTube, I would say most people don't even seem to know care they are on camera most of the time..."

        There, FTFY!

  6. Christoph Silver badge

    At the moment you can be arrested for the crime of going to Notting Hill Carnival while looking vaguely like a known criminal. In the future you will get nicked every time you walk down the street.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Unfortunately you wont be nicked - that would allow you to question the evidence.

      You will just be misidentified and go on a database. You were "seen" (to p=0.05) at a demo against an arms fair. You end up on a no-fly list or suddenly don't get that job at a firm that gets lots of government work.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Second article in a week on secret law in the UK

    It's almost like they're trying to out-Stasi the Stasi.

    And then they wonder why people have no respect for the police...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. JohnMurray

    It's cold = wear a face mask

    It's summer = wear a face mask to filter the traffic pollution

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I Agree.

      Face masks for security conscious hipsters, gotta be the next big thing.

      Invest now.

      (See icon)

      1. Spangle

        They are currently building up to a ban on burkhas in the UK, the unsuspecting public believing its to stop terrorism. Of course once it comes into law it will just be titled face coverings in public to avoid persecuting individual religions etc. If switzerland, france, belgium, the netherlands, spain and italy all have bans of some description then its a matter of time before it becomes european policy.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      There is a ban on face coverings in Germany, unless it is for religious purposes, it seems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Start your own religion.

        Evidence is clearly not required.

        "The mission of thy godly face"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ban you say?

        How do the authorities arrest a crowd?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          How do the authorities arrest a crowd?

          With kettling, tear gas and snatch squads, as I seem to recall.

      3. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

        "There is a ban on face coverings in Germany, unless it is for religious purposes, it seems."

        I imagine that is very popular with welders, construction workers, surgeons, motorcyclists and those who don't like frostbitten faces in winter.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: a ban on face coverings in Germany

          That must keep the cops around Garmisch and Zugspitze busy in the ski season.

        2. Remy Redert

          It's a little less overly broad than that. But face coverings in public without a good reason absolutely will attract police attention. Generally I expect they'll ask you kindly to remove the offending article, as this is the modern German police, not the US.

  9. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Re Face Masks

    Face Mask Recognition is already close to 100%.

    1. Kane Silver badge

      Re: Re Face Masks

      "Face Mask Recognition is already close to 100%."

      Yup, that's a Face Mask alright!

  10. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Trollface

    Retro fashion

    Wasn't it fashionable at one time in the UK for ladies to wear veils on their hats?

    Possibly quite practical to keep sun and flies away?

    I tried to look it up but was swamped by muslim veil controversy.

    Time for the fashion to return in a unisex manner?

    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Angel

      Re: Retro fashion

      And don't forget the Dame Edna glasses to help the confusion - the fancier the better because then they have trouble getting a fix on where your eyebrows are meant to be.

      Added bonus, the glitzy bits can hide the cunningly-flickering camera-blinding IR LEDs that you added to the frame.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Retro fashion

      Time for the fashion to return in a unisex manner?

      Beekeepers of the world, unite!

  11. JakeMS
    Thumb Up

    Well

    As they say, If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear!

    Now, please be a good little citizen, pay your taxes on time and make sure to keep us up to date with any decisions in your life you plan to make, should you wish to do something other than we have allocated for you today please be aware you will be caught. Remember, you owe us everything and without us you will have nothing.

    But please don't think of us as "spying" on you. Think of it as keeping you safe, there are some very bad people out there who do not pay their taxes, sorry, wait no that's not what I mean, I mean there are bad people out there who will hurt you and your family and must be caught.

    It is for your own good really. We are keeping you safe, we are protecting your children from the child catcher and we are helping you live a long and happy life!

    Just remember, you can trust us. We are perfectly trust worthy. We do not use any of the information we capture about you unless you do something bad like missing a tax payment or killing someone.

    We are your friends, please trust us. Now run along and enjoy your life and remember, every day, every hour, every minute and every second of your life we are here for you.

    PS: Can you please tell your neighbour John that he isn't fooling anyone by telling us his last name is "Doe". If he continues to resist we may have to terminate him.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Re: Well

      "here are some very bad people out there who do not pay their taxes our wages"

      FTFY

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Well

      or killing someone.

      (Unless this occurs as an entirely predictable result of government economic policy, of course.)

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    What a load of official bull

    As usual, terrorism is the go-to excuse for justifying all this surveillance.

    Sorry, but to catch terrorists you do not need to blanket the country with cameras, just the airports and seaports. If terrorism is really that important to you, then add radars along the coast to catch any incoming boats that do not enter the normal channels, that way you can send a "greeting committee" to make sure they "arrive safely".

    That should be enough to deal with terrorism.

    Concerning tying the hands of the police behind their backs, well the alternative appears to be give them a blank check. Neither is good. And what do I care that private companies are using the tech ? Private companies cannot arrest me and throw me in jail by mistake. Stupid argument.

    Finally, as far as cameras are concerned, don't make me laugh. I cannot count the times I've heard about people wanting to check the images to find the perp who stole their bike only to be told that there were no recordings at that time, or to find that the image was perfectly useless on the rare occasions they actually got an image to check.

    Makes me wonder what all the hoopla is really about. Is all this just the PM's private perv channel ?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: What a load of official bull

      In case you haven't been paying attention for the past 50 years, which frankly is what it looks like: most terrorism is perpetrated by people who are already inside their native country, who don't have to pass through any borders to get there.

      On the rare occasions when they do pass a border (e.g. the 11 September hijackers), they usually have clean criminal records at the time.

      Watching airports and seaports is certainly not "enough to deal with terrorism". It is, however, quite enough to infringe on a lot of people's privacy.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Private companies cannot arrest me and throw me in jail by mistake."

    They may not be able to throw you in jail but google kingdom litter fines and wonder what might happen if that lot got hold of the technology.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      FAIL

      Interesting...

      > google kingdom litter fines

      I didn't use GoogleTM, but searched with Ixquick. :) The url http://www.kingdom.co.uk/services/environmental-protection/ (deliberately not linkified) returns an error unless one allows http://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js to run some JavaScript. I didn't do that, either.

      I'm sure this sort of thing isn't what TBL had in mind when cooking up the WWW ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: google-analytics

        Which means that every keystroke goes to the USA without the need for a search warrant.

        Google is also the enemy of freedom.

      2. Anonymous Coward
  14. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Data retention

    "The peers also voiced concerns about the government’s attitude to data retention, with many questioning why custody images of people who have not been charged with an offence were still on record, despite a 2012 ruling that said keeping images of presumed innocent people on file was unlawful."

    Considering that the Police have stated that it's "difficult" to remove images from the custody database, it does make me wonder if they are simply storing up future problems. Both passports and driving licence photos have to be renewed every 10 years because over that time period a photo is likely to become inaccurate for identification purposes. If the Police can't find a way to expire photos after about 10 years or so, they will end up with a database full of outdated and inaccurate data. Facial recog will get progressively worse.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Data retention

      What is this driving licence photo of which you speak?

      .. Stares at crumpled old paper licence

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Data retention

      " Facial recog will get progressively worse."

      You know they're talking bollocks about not being able to delete photo's, right?

      1. MGJ

        Re: Data retention

        They really aren't. The problem with each force having a system for this and a system for that. No link between custody systems, criminal history systems etc, probably because someone in the past claimed that there were "Big Brother implications" of a link between someone not yet charged, and a later person who had been charged with something.

        Facial Recognition works well enough for the police to be able to spot those members of the Green Brigade who have sent along someone else to the police station to sign the book while they are at Parkhead and shouldnt be there because of a Football Banning Order.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Data retention

        "You know they're talking bollocks about not being able to delete photo's, right?"

        Oh, of course I do. But are they clever enough to remove/replace/link old and current photos if they even realise that the photos may be going out of date?

  15. Flywheel Silver badge

    Horse. Stable. Bolted

    Wasserman: this technology could lead to miscarriages of justice, which in turn could lead to a loss of confidence in the technology and a loss of trust in the criminal justice system as a whole..

    A bit late for that I would say. Technology has the potential to increase miscarriages of justice, and do we really trust the criminal justice system?

  16. JaitcH
    Happy

    Start With Your Passport Photo

    The passport agency is a facial I.D.s trove.

    Since the likeness of people to their photographs is pretty lose for passports, the opportunity to modify them is great.

    Simply consult a facial recognition chart then work on the key points such as eyes (move iris), ears (hide under a shaggy hair style), eye brows (join), beards and mouth (make a suckling lemon shape) before dispatching your pictures. Fortunately, I have my pictures taken by a graphic artistic outlet and, slowly, over the years they have gradually varied many salient points.

    And don't forget, IR LEDs are your friends - they sure distract scanners.

    Don't like bio eye scanners? Cross your eyes (works on single scanners, too). And using arsenic on hands regularly and your fingerprints will disappear - and won't kill you, ether.

    1. MGJ

      Re: Start With Your Passport Photo

      And the opportunity for the person who is of good character and has countersigned your photo as being of a true likeness going to prison as a result is quite high.

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