Don’t use Beyonce to normalise live facial recognition

Its deployment is nothing more than our demise from democracy. It may be all anyone can talk about this morning, but Beyonce’s nothing short of incredible performance (I’m sure) in Cardiff was marred by the disappointing news that Cardiff police were deploying live facial recognition to “support” the concert.

What is live facial recognition?

For anyone new to the subject, live facial recognition is the real-time deployment of facial recognition technology, which compares live camera feed or feeds of faces against a police’s watchlist. When a match is detected, an alert is generated for the police to ascertain if the “person of interest” is wanted for a criminal offence, should be prevented for entering a space or if they might pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.

Some might see this as smart policing. Others, including Open Rights Group, has serious concerns about the creeping use of this technology, especially when its accuracy and efficacy is seriously under question.

Discriminatory impact

Critics have long pointed out that accuracy also diminishes when the subject is a person of colour and the younger the person is. Its previously disproportionate misidentifications among younger Black men in particular has also raised the discriminatory nature of the technology. Hearing accounts from others seeing misidentifications first-hand, it is clear that errors in this field are no casual blunder. Apprehending someone as a mistaken person of interest has an impact on that person and this is happening in their formative years.

From a civil

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