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Written by Nicholas Fern - ITPro for the full article click here.

While facial recognition is gaining traction as an alternative to fingerprint scanning for biometric security, its use in public settings – particularly for broad-spectrum surveillance –  is growing increasingly controversial. In particular, both campaign groups and governments alike are worried by the threat they pose to individuals’ right to privacy.

In the UK, there have been countless legal challenges about the accuracy of systems used by law enforcement officials, and plans to deploy facial recognition at a Kings Cross development site were shelved following backlash from privacy campaigners. On the other side of the Atlantic, California has banned police from using the technology for three years after citing similar concerns. In Europe, meanwhile, the EU is mulling a five-year ban on the technology.


Georgia Shriane, senior associate - solicitor at law firm Boyes Turner, says organisations need to accurately identify the risk areas first in order to make this technology safer. But this, she admits, isn’t easy.  “We have already learnt, through arresting the wrong people or mis-identifying suspects, that there is a risk of the LFR technology not being accurate enough,” she tells IT Pro.

“Can we justify proceeding on this trial-and–error basis using large amounts of biometric data (which itself throws up human rights questions) in order to explore the success of the technology, how to improve it and make it “safer ? It seems to be very hit and miss.”

There are also challenges around privacy laws. She adds: “Another point to bear in mind is that even our relatively recent GDPR is out of date when it comes to LFR (the GDPR in its final form was passed in 2016 and came into force in 2018 – without particularly considering the difficulties of LFR) and the LFR needs to be properly legislated for.”

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