After previously denying any involvement, London's Metropolitan Police Service has now revealed that it supplied image data used in the facial recognition technology employed by the developers of the King's Cross estate between May 2016 and March 2018.
The latest development in the debate comes from London's mayor, who announced that the original claim London police made about not being involved with the King's Cross operation was "incorrect", and that they had in fact shared images related to facial recognition with King's Cross Central Limited Partnership. The Mayor went on to apologise for the inaccurate information, and confirmed that the sending of images by police ceased in 2018.
A spokesman for the Met said it had provided images "to assist in the prevention of crime" for "a local agreement" made with the King's Cross Estate partnership. "This information sharing had occurred at a local level over a limited period and has only just come to light to the central team managing police imagery. "
"The MPS has not shared any images with the King's Cross Estate, or any related company, for facial recognition purposes since March 2018," the spokesman added.
Exact details of the legality of the implementation of the facial-recognition technology, such as if there were any notices on display to alert the public that the King's Cross developers were making use of facial recognition tech, are still unclear.
Of course, even if they did do everything by the rules, there are still wider ethical concerns to consider, such as the effectiveness of facial recognition technology in general, as well as an alarming lack of public debate on the use, understanding, and implementation of the technology in public areas. One thing for certain is that this isn't something that can wait to be discussed at our leisure; facial recognition technology is advancing at an alarming rate, and doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. Hopefully, the use of facial recognition technology in the King's Cross estate will spark a larger, general debate on the technology, and the legislation and laws surrounding its use will receive a much-needed update. [BBC]
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