UK Joins Chinese State-Funded Project to Develop Advanced Facial Recognition Tech

By Shabana Arif on at

If there's one thing that shows a country's dedication to upholding human rights and the freedom of its citizens, it's supporting an oppressive regime.

So we can all rest easy now that the Home Office has confirmed that the UK has joined Beijing on its FaceR2VM project that aims to develop facial recognition technology to identify people even if their face is partially hidden by a mask, for example.

FaceR2VM (Face Matching for Automatic Identity Retrieval, Recognition, Verification and Management) kicked off in 2016 and is set to wrap up at the end of 2021. The Home Office says that the UK is “one of several partners” on the project. The Met Police has said that it's also taking part, but that after a "handful" of meetings, no tech that's been developed so far has rolled out. A Met spokesperson said:

"The Met is committed to using new and emerging technologies to tackle crime and stop violent criminals and has a responsibility to stay abreast of evolving technologies that could be of benefit to policing."

Oxford University chancellor, and former Hong Kong governor, Lord Patten said:

"It is a matter of concern when we find ourselves assisting what is a totalitarian state in developing surveillance technology used to police and incarcerate more than a million Muslims in Xinjiang. This is exactly the sort of research collaboration over which we should be extremely careful."

Despite the fact that people obviously aren't happy about authorities or anyone else utilising facial recognition technology, Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick went off on a rant last month, and didn't exactly do the police any favours in her justification of using the tech. I guess we'll see the fruits of the project's labour next year. So look forward to that. [City A.M.]

Feature image credit: Unsplash