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Government bodies and live facial recognition (1)

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 12th March 2020.

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Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

Could the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) provide a response detailing how they have complied with the advice, recommendations, and guidance given in each of the following statements from Government bodies regarding live facial recognition:

(a) The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report in July 2019, calling for a moratorium on all facial recognition technology until legislation has been put in place.

(b) The Information Commissioner’s Office, on 31 October 2019, publishing the first ever Information Commissioner’s Opinion stating there should be: “a statutory and binding code of practice issued by government.”

(c) In his response to the court judgment on South Wales Police's use of automated facial recognition technology, on 10 September 2019, the Biometrics Commissioner saying that, in his view, it was for ministers and Parliament to decide: “whether there should be a specific legal framework for the police (and others) to routinely deploy new biometrics including facial recognition but also voice recognition, gait analysis, iris analysis or other new biometric technologies as they emerge.”

(d) The Surveillance Camera Commissioner saying, in a statement issued on 11 September 2019 on the High Court judgment on the use of Automatic Facial Recognition technology by South Wales Police: “I would urge a degree of caution on the part of the police to regard the judgment as being a green light for the generic deployment of AFR.”

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I have been clear that the Government should legislate to provide guidance which would clarify the use of Live Facial Recognition. In the absence of this, the MPS are clear that the legal framework currently in place, including the Bridges vs South Wales Police Judgement which found in favour of use of LFR by the police, permits the use of LFR. The legal mandate has been published here: https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/facial-recognition/live-facial-recognition/

The whole suite of documents published on the MPS website have been informed by discussion with the ICO, SCC and Biometrics Commissioner, in addition to the south Wales judicial review. The ICO acknowledges this here: https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2020/01/ico-statement-in-response-to-an-announcement-made-by-the-met-police/ and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s self-assessment tool is available on the website.

The Equality Impact Assessment has taken into account the opinion of the Information Commissioner’s Office.