In yet another example of companies doing whatever the fuck they like with no repercussions, UK property developer Argent has been sneakily using face recognition tech without telling anyone.
Argent is currently in the middle of developing a site in Kings Cross, and now that its stealth use of face recognition tech has been brought to light thanks to the Financial Times, it's on the defensive, explaining how necessary the use of the technology is "in the interest of public safety" which is a crock of shit.
"These cameras use a number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition, but also have sophisticated systems in place to protect the privacy of the general public," a spokesperson said. Bearing in mind that the local council wasn't even aware that Argent was using face recognition tech, for which you need to provide some measure of legal justification for under the EU's data protection law, this should be cause for concern.
When pressed to disclose what these other systems are that are being used, the spokesperson clammed up. So that should definitely fill you with confidence.
The UK's independent authority, ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) has said that "Organisations wishing to automatically capture and use images of individuals going about their business in public spaces need to provide clear evidence to demonstrate it is strictly necessary and proportionate for the circumstances, and that there is a legal basis for that use.
"The ICO is currently looking at the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement in public spaces and by private sector organisations, including where they are partnering with police forces.
"We'll consider taking action where we find non-compliance with the law."
Just last month, a group of MPs criticised the use of face recognition tech and the legality of its use, calling for more regulation.
It's almost as if they're concerned people will put it to use without telling the public or local authorities, and they'd be right. We've had unmarked police vans testing the tech on unwitting members of the public, and passersby who refuse to participate in being scanned as they go about their business getting fined.
Legalities aside, it's actually pretty crappy in keeping anyone safe, with 96 per cent of the people scanned in the trials carried out in the UK between 2016 and 2018 being falsely identified as criminals.
Whether Argent will be held accountable for using face recognition tech on the public without their consent and without notifying local bodies remains to be seen. [BBC News]