Facial recognition – it’s legal now, folks (AFP)

Police in South Wales are now legally able to use facial recognition technology, judges have decided.

Two judges dismissed the case against using the controversial tech which had been brought by human rights campaign group Liberty on behalf of Cardiff resident Ed Bridges.

Mr. Bridges had had his face scanned by South Wales Police during a trial of the technology. His lawyers argued that the police violated his human right to privacy by capturing and processing the image taken of him.

But Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, concluded the use of live facial recognition ‘met the requirements of the Human Rights Act’.

Silkie Carlo, the director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, called the verdict ‘disappointing.’

Ed Bridges from Cardiff lost the world’s first legal challenge over police use of facial recognition technology. (PA)

‘Today’s judgment acknowledges that live facial recognition surveillance by South Wales Police interferes with the public’s privacy rights but contends that its use, even to monitor peaceful protesters, is lawful,’ she said.

‘We feel that people in Wales have been let down and are pleased that Mr Bridges intends to appeal this profoundly disappointing judgment, which failed to grasp the intrusive nature of this technology.’

Earlier this year, South Wales Police defended the use of the technology.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: ‘We are very cognisant of concerns about privacy and we are building in checks and balances into our methodology to reassure the public that the approach we take is justified and proportionate.’


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