Scottish policing committee: facial recognition not fit for roll-out

2/13/2020

The Scottish Government has stated that current live facial recognition technology should not currently be used by Police Scotland.

According to Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing - which published its report on the subject this week -, the force would need to demonstrate “the legal basis [it] would rely on for its use.” It would also need to prove the technology’s compliance with human rights and data protection legislation, and that any potential bias towards ethnic minorities and women would be eliminated.
 
The Sub-Committee has also called for the Scottish Government to explicitly regulate the use of live facial recognition technology. This, it suggested, should also cover private companies and other public sector organisations, such as local authorities.
 
Police Scotland has previously outlined its ambition to introduce ‘live’ facial recognition in its Policing 2026 strategy. However, the force’s assessment that this will have a positive impact on equalities and human rights is in “stark contrast” to evidence received by the Sub-Committee.
 
Speaking of the report, sub-committee convener, John Finnie MSP, said: “It is clear that this technology is in no fit state to be rolled out or indeed to assist the police with their work. Current live facial recognition technology throws up far too many ‘false positives’, and contains inherent biases that are known to be discriminatory.
 
“Our inquiry has also shone light on other issues with facial recognition technology that we now want the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Government to consider. Not least amongst these are the legal challenges against similar technologies in England and Wales, and the apparent lack of law explicitly governing its use in Scotland, by any organisation.”
 
Police Scotland has stated that it currently has no plans to roll-out the technology.

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Philip Mason
Editor, Critical Communications Portfolio
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Philip.mason@markallengroup.com

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