Facial Recognition Still Doesn't Work Like it Does in Films

By Gary Cutlack on at

Computers still aren't very good at recognising faces, according to research, which says that police use of facial recognition software is a massive waste of money and effort, and routinely results in randoms being plucked out of photographic databases.

The campaigners at Big Brother Watch say their research found one case of camera software in use with London's Met Police where the systems was wrong a staggering 98 per cent of the time, with it incorrectly telling human bosses it had identified a suspect's face from a linked database 102 times.

South Wales police had a go at the future of law enforcement too, testing a similar system with a £2m grant from the Home Office -- but local tests at public events resulted in the wrong man being pointed out 91 per cent of the time. A much larger trial at the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff last year resulted in 2,297 false positives and just 173 positive-positives. Maybe the police ought to go back to the old methods of picking out people who look a bit dodgy.

BBW's Silkie Carlo said: "We're seeing ordinary people being asked to produce ID to prove their innocence as police are wrongly identifying thousands of innocent citizens as criminals. It is deeply disturbing and undemocratic that police are using a technology that is almost entirely inaccurate, that they have no legal power for, and that poses a major risk to our freedoms." [Big Brother Watch via Guardian]

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