Protesters Picket London Police's Facial Recognition Van

By Gary Cutlack on at

This very out of place, unmarked, bright green, coned-off van bang in the middle of London's tourist and shopping district is rightly arousing suspicions, not because people think it might be packed with terrorists psyching themselves up enough to leap out and make everyone spill their festive lattes in shock, but because we know it's the Met Police testing mass surveillance/facial recognition technology on the ruddy-cheeked festive passers-by.

Pressure group Liberty is leading the protest against the mass scanning, with its polite human shields handing out leaflets and shouting sensible things about human rights at the van's besieged occupants. What's particularly enraging activists is that the van is unmarked, and the only notice given about what's going on is via a few small posters in front of it -- and by the time you've approached it to read what's going on, your frowning London face has been scanned in and added to the Met's list of potentially disruptive inquisitive people who like to know what's going on. Troublemakers.

The Met Police says it's part of an ongoing trial of the tech -- which has been outed as literally useless in the past -- and that it is being used "overtly with a clear uniformed presence" despite the many on-site photos out there showing nothing more than a suspicious van parked up. [Met Police via Liberty]