back to article Rights group launches legal challenge over London cops' use of facial recognition tech

A campaign group has issued a legal challenge against the London Metropolitan Police's use of facial recognition technology. Big Brother Watch, which has been crowdfunding the costs of the case, yesterday requested permission from the High Court to proceed with the judicial review. The group's co-claimant in the case, …

  1. Nick Kew Silver badge

    A fine distinction

    CCTV is old news. In widespread use, and seemingly accepted by most.

    What does facial recognition really add to CCTV? If evidence from a camera is ever going to be used against someone in court or elsewhere, it's going to be based on human analysis, and cops have been doing that for as long as there's been CCTV. Patterns of behaviour? What cop is going to stand up and face such obvious ridicule as M'lud, my client's alleged appearance in all that footage is part of the 98%.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A fine distinction

      You can identify people without having to sit and watch the footage, it can also be used in real time. It's not for use in court it's to identify dissenters and perceived trouble makers so whoever the Stasi is at the time can go and get them ready for re-education. If people don't fight these things then they only have themselves to blame when it is misused.

      Edit: I'm not buying the current reported accuracy either. If Farcebook can do it then I'm sure the police can.

    2. Kinetic
      Black Helicopters

      Re: A fine distinction

      Because (if it was any good) it could be used to continually monitor everybody, and generate a graph of who is seen with who, where they go, what they do etc.

      Want to see who attended a political rally, it's just a query away. Want to see who they went to the rally with, sure, easy. Who are their friends? What about people who went to a demonstration about police brutality? Where do they work? Hmm interesting, I wonder if their work knows about their radical political views, or their wife knows about the pretty young woman they went to the demo with.... and <clickty, click> have spent a number of evenings with in various travel lodges "away on work" with. Maybe we should ask them...and then..again about their opposition to our policing methods...

      You know everyone is up in arms about cookies tracking you online? This is basically it in real life. The rub is that the cookie is your face .... want to opt out, easy, just change your face.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: A fine distinction

        @Kinetic

        "The rub is that the cookie is your face .... want to opt out, easy, just change your face."

        And even worse, once gait recognition in use it gets a lot harder to conceal yourself. Altering gait is surprisingly difficult, and even if you do altering height, weight is awkward

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: A fine distinction

          This is a very big jump from 'no expectation of privacy in public' to 'actively being tracked by the state'.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A fine distinction

          "And even worse, once gait recognition in use it gets a lot harder to conceal yourself. Altering gait is surprisingly difficult, and even if you do altering height, weight is awkward"

          One of the University research groups developing this tried to install a test set-up in a public area of a University building, not the one with their lab in, a much busier one, cue the Trades Union rep with SIA CCTV operation licencing training threatening to report the academic, head of department, faculty dean and VC to the ICO for operation of an unrecorded unlicenced system. Said Universities registered data controller arrived and disabled the system before it went live...

          It's not just height/weight, it's hip/pelvis width, articulation, rotation and limb length between joints that the better systems track and analyse, short of surgical alteration no-one, even fully robed in loose clothing can avoid detection reliably, enough measurable data for a reliable 'person of interest' action trigger can still be achived...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A fine distinction

        "You know everyone is up in arms about cookies tracking you online?"

        Actually I'd suspect that the vast majority don't care about this so long as they get to do the things they want to online (and I'd also suspect that more people would probably complain about all the "click here to accept cookies" pop-ups that appar everywhere now post GPDR than are bothered about cookies).

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: A fine distinction

          Actually I'd suspect that the vast majority don't care about this

          Until the first case of their employer buying their browsing history, or the first time it is used in a divorce or child custody case.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A fine distinction

            Employers buying browsing history? Its more likely that they'll get anything they need by lookig at what people make public on facebook etc.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: A fine distinction

              >Employers buying browsing history?

              Over here, on the left pond, the employer pays for health insurance - it's fscking expensive.

              If we were a bigger company and had an older workforce it might just pay me to check that a new hire hadn't been googling "high blood pressure" or "diabetes medicine" before I hired him.

              Ironically I can't ask about health, marital status, kids etc in an interview but I can (probably IANAL) buy all his browsing history from his ISP following a few recent rulings.

              Even if it were illegal for me to use that info in the USA - I could have my offshore "employee screening" subsidiary do it and then "advise" me on hiring each candidate.

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: A fine distinction

      If (a very big if) facial recognition gets accurate* and facial recog kit set up in lots of places by police then they have your movements on tap. With CCTV they have to have a valid reason to requisition footage, if their own kit then they not have access issues.

      The police can then get a detailed picture of a persons movements, which hammers privacy (far worse than (also dubious) ANPR data stockpiles - as vehicle journeys have less granularity - even if you are someone who drives but never walks, takes train etc. as ANPR cameras still not yet widely deployed)

      I know lots of social media users do not care about privacy, but some people still do.

      People involved in protests have a right to be concerned as we have long since seen politically motivated surveillance / infiltration of protest groups, in some cases spycops acting as agent provocateurs to incite / aid illegal activities.

      * to be more accurate ideally would want coupling with gait recognition etc as facial on its own is poor.

      1. Julz
        Black Helicopters

        Re: A fine distinction

        @tiggity

        ANPR cameras are widely used and have been so for a long time. Ask any IRA member about changing the number plates on their vans as they drove around doing their dark business both in Ireland and on the mainland.

      2. Loud Speaker

        Re: A fine distinction

        Currently, it is more like farcical recognition.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cressida Dick doesn't expect the use of the tech to result in lots of arrests...

    ... but perhaps it might result in other sorts of mistake instead?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cressida Dick doesn't expect the use of the tech to result in lots of arrests...

      Shootings on the tube perhaps, especially of the wrong people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cressida Dick doesn't expect the use of the tech to result in lots of arrests...

        @Ivan4

        What a waste of miney this is then- the Met are perfectly good at shooting the wrong person without this technology!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Donated

    It's a good use of money, going to throw another few quid at Liberty too.

    The world might be going mad but these organisations have a pretty good track record of at least slowing the progress of the slide into the abyss.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Donated

      Liberty also whitewashed the anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, mind

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Donated

        An opinion I'd say, I personally agree with what they were highlighting that it's dangerous to lump criticism of Israel alongside antisemitism.

        But to each their own

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Donated

          >>n opinion I'd say, I personally agree with what they were highlighting that it's dangerous to lump criticism of Israel alongside antisemitism.<<

          Criticism of Israel is ok, comparing them to Nazi's isn't.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Donated

            Corbyn and his deranged followers believe in an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers, that’s the cause of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, nothing to do with Israel

            1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Donated

              "Corbyn and his deranged followers"

              There have been charges of antisemitism against the labour party for far longer than Comrade Corbyn and co have been in charge.

          2. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Donated

            "Criticism of Israel is ok, comparing them to Nazi's isn't."

            The Israeli government has embarked on a very slippery slope whereby it is treating citizens of it's own country as second-class citizens. It's treating other non-citizens in areas which are not Israel but occupied by Israel and under de facto the control of Israeli government as sub-humans with zero rights. This on the base of race / religion.

            So, if you want to be pedantic about it, Israel haven't yet arrived at the point where they're doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to Jews, but they're steadily heading that way. Just because Jews were scapegoated for hundreds of years and rounded up for forced labour and mass-murder (and let's be clear, there is no doubt that this happened and that it is one of the most awful an deplorable things ever in the history of mankind) does not make Israel immune from criticism for perpetrating even one-hundredth of that on another people. And just because they were attacked by their neighbours over 50 years ago doesn't give them license to do as they please on that occupied land.

            The comparison to Nazis might be insensitive but is not so inappropriate, if only to serve as an eye-opener and shock decent Israelis (and also Jews around the world ) into understanding exactly what the Israeli government is up to.

            1. OldCrow
              Trollface

              Re: Donated

              Yeah, well, Nazis didn't get rocket-bombed by the Jews every other day over the ghetto walls.

              Whereas Israel is bombed regularly by palestinians. Last year, it was rockets. This year, I hear they've moved to incendiary balloons.

              So, yeah, not totally comparable...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Donated

          It's also dangerous for one party to cry 'anti-Semitism' at another so much that it might be seen as a dog-whistle euphemism for 'too many Muslims for our liking'...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Donated

        Liberty also whitewashed the anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, mind

        Well, yes. One could be forgiven for observing that the former director of Liberty is today known as Baroness Chakrabarti CBE and is now part of Mr Corbyn's frontbench team as the Shadow Minister for Justice. This is an entirely unrelated coincidence, of course.

        Anti-Semitism in the Labour party couldn't be discovered, because if they did then Labour would have to do something about it- which comes down to making a choice between firing the people involved or not.

        If Labour did fire the anti-semities involved then they would lose important "alt-left" voices, and this would imperil the extreme left wing vote and potentially risk losing a certain large religious block vote that Labour has electorally positioned itself to represent, which happens to be institutionally anti-semitic.

        If they do not fire those people, then they start losing a few of their "traditional" supporters and maybe their Jewish vote.

        The number of people gained through keeping the anti-semities is smaller than those lost through firing them, so the obvious thing to do is what they are doing. Newspeak anti-semitism to mean something else, in order to keep the Jewish and traditional supporter vote onboard and hope it all blows over without them losing too many moderates.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Donated

        What's all the fuss about anti-Semitism?

        Should Israel exist? Hell no. It didn't for 2000 years and has no right to do so now. It was only because of terrorists and the British wanting to get out of Palestine that they got some land. Then in 1967 they stole a load more -- because some old tattered book said it was theirs, years ago.

        Should Jews be persecuted in other countries? Hell no. Just as anyone has a right to live there, so do Jews.

        But the Jews have NO RIGHT to steal land that they lost 2000 years ago. The good news is that more and more Jews are breeding with none jews and diluting the race (hence the recent 'Jewish State' law). The place is worse than the US for guns. Once the US economy goes down the pan and they refuse to fund them Israel will dissolve back into a land for all. If that takes 200 years so be it. But they won't keep it.

        Anti-Semitism -- given the above, go on, explain it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Donated

          Yes, well, the Holocaust shouldn’t have happened either, but it did, and the world decided that the Jewish people deserved somewhere they could be safe. That’s what it means to be anti-Israel, it means you want to finish off the job. Funny how it’s always the socialists, eh?

        2. OldCrow
          Flame

          Re: Donated

          @AC:

          "But the Jews have NO RIGHT to steal land that they lost 2000 years ago."

          You mean the land that the Jews bought 3 times over the last 2000 years, with money and gold? The seller always got the money, but never got around to handing over the land.

          The land that has always housed a population of Jews, from biblical times to this day? The land of Israel was never completely devoid of Jews. They just weren't allowed to govern themselves until now.

          "in 1967 they stole a load more"

          In one of the wars waged to wipe them out? Hell, if someone was trying to kill me just for my lineage, I'd was some compensation for my trouble too.

        3. Domquark

          Re: Donated

          @AC - "Should Israel exist? Hell no." - Bullshit.

          Even the Qur'an teaches about the lands of the Jews (Israel). Check it out yourself - 17:100-104.

          The Jews have paid for that land, many times over in blood and money. I agree that it does not give the Israeli government the right to run roughshod over others rights.

          "because some old tattered book said it was theirs, years ago."

          By that logic, many borders all over the world could be re-written. Don't think that it would go down too well.........

    2. VooDooMonkey

      Re: Donated

      This is the problem, conflating people of Jewish faith and the state of Israel. They are two separate things.

      There are Jewish people living all over the middle-east, happily living side by side with Muslims and Christians for millennia.

      Comparing what the state of Israel has been doing and continues to do to the people of Palestine with what the Nazi's did to Jewish people in Europe isn't such a big leap.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Indeed...

    "There were also concerns that it would dissuade people from peaceful protests"

    And I believe that for someone, somewhere, in the shadowy recesses of London or UK Gov, that is this the exact reason why they want this tech implemented.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Peaceful protest

      When I've been on a peaceful protest, I've always done so fully expecting to be identified - and that's based on last century's technology (and police on horseback in big events). Not going to let that bother me.

      The big psychological hurdle was going on an event associated with the loony left. That put me off for years, before I felt strongly enough about something to overcome natural revulsion.

  6. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Articles 8, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights

    We had best enjoy them while we can. Once we have brexited, reclaimed our sovereignty, withdrawn from the ECHR to allow the government and its agencies to do whatever they bloody-well like, we will have to lump it.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Articles 8, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights

      The ECHR is not the EU.

      It's two decades older than that - signed in 1950, straight after the Second World War as part of the attempt to make sure things like the Holocaust don't happen again.

      The UK is a founder member, and there are now 47 countries signed up to it.

      It's pretty terrifying how many totally unrelated things the Brexiteers want us to pull out of. What is it that they want to be allowed to do?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waste of money...

    Joe Public is easier to prosecute than catching a criminal.

  8. DJO Silver badge

    Perhaps some form of disguise

    https://www.novelties-direct.co.uk/Plastic-Groucho-Glasses.html

    https://www.funpartystore.co.uk/guy-fawkes-anonymous-mask.html

    I'd love to everybody at all public events in London wearing something like these.

    Perhaps the organisers could hand them out at the gates

  9. strum Silver badge

    If DIck is so cool with this, then she won't might making available the tech to identify and track coppers - who they meet, where they go, what they do. No?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You don't need this stuff now

    Just get people to waste their money on a lovely 'Tommy Hilfiger' top. It comes with is own built in tracking device. Cheap at £200 each but don't wash it more than 10 times as it will not only apart but the tracker will stop working.

    Please, stop the world I wanna get off.

  11. alain williams Silver badge

    If we really need this to protect places ...

    then why not start where some of the most (self) important people hang out. Please install this kit to monitor everyone in & out of Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster.

    Surely the MPs would feel grateful knowing that Big Brother is viewing all the comings and goings and thus keep them safe!

    1. dbgi

      Re: If we really need this to protect places ...

      Don't forget when they brought out the new internet laws last year or before for internet data retention, that they put a clause in there to excuse anyone in government. lol

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    The secret policeman's camera

    Without a doubt preventing the everyday use use of FR tech is in the interests of a free society but history shows that if a thing is possible, then someone will be doing it.

    I can't imagine that having the kit already that the fuzz will throw it out if it is outlawed in any way, they will just use it for anything they can shout 'national security' for and use it in secret.

    That would probably mean limitations in it's use as evidence in a court of law but they would still have a lot of data anyway and that will still impinge on basic freedom.

  13. martinusher Silver badge

    You know deep in your heart that the problem is that this stuff might work....

    Think of it as ANPR for humans....and you all know what ANPR can be used for...

  14. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    a 98 per cent false positive rate, and had led to zero arrests

    So, by government standards, it's a success!

  15. Snapper
    Big Brother

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Bearing in mind the nauseating hypocrisy of the people-in-charge who won't be on the receiving end of this technology but are quite happy for centuries of hard-fought for freedoms to live our lives without intolerable religious/moralistic scrutiny to be swept away, perhaps we should be very careful who we elect next.

    I can see certain figures in a certain party who are probably getting unbearably moist at the opportunities to keep the 'enemies of the people' i.e. the people who disagree with them, under surveillance night and day. Woe betide you if you are a journalist or a whistle-blower and put your head above the parapet in future, as you'll probably find a kangaroo/public opinion court will be hastily convened and you, Sir or Madam, will be permanently removed from your career and life will be made intolerably hard from you in other ways that can't quite be explained, just as a warning to others.

    You elect a party within a party with a different agenda that the one in the manifesto at your peril.

    Stalin would be proud.

  16. RobertLongshaft

    The police aren't looking for traditional criminals, murderers, rapists or child molesters. They're looking for people who post tweets or facebook updates which dare to question the far leftist ideology of the modern globalist establishment.

    Did you know the metropolitan police has a rule whereby it has to attend a reported hate crime within an hour? Get burgled and they almost certainly won't bother, get robbed at knife point and all you'll get is a crime number. This is the modern day British police force, no resources to police the streets but quite literally millions and millions to waste on policing facebook, twitter and the thousands of falsely reported "hate" crimes.

  17. dbgi

    Peaceful protests

    "There were also concerns that it would dissuade people from peaceful protests."

    I agree. I used to think anything you did on a computer was recorded and therefore you shouldn't say/do anything you don't want rearing it's ugly head if you went for job interview, etc. Such as making political comments on twit-face.

    Now its anything you do anywhere. Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing to avoid offending anyone or giving someone/something reason to affect your life or career.

  18. John70
    Black Helicopters

    What's Cressida Dick going to do about the smart phone in her pocket (if she has one that is)?

    It's already monitoring her, giving away her location, listening to her through Siri/Alexa/Google/Bixby (that's Samsung's version).

  19. pig

    lol, story synergy.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/26/amazon_face_recogition_sucks/

    I like the Amercian way of warning their politicians better!

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