London police to roll out live facial recognition

Police in the British capital are set to deploy automated facial recognition technology across the city, the Met Police announced today.

“The use of live facial recognition technology will be intelligence-led and deployed to specific locations in London,” the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement, arguing that this “will help tackle serious crime, including serious violence, gun and knife crime, child sexual exploitation and help protect the vulnerable.”

Democratic governments in the West are increasingly following the example of authoritarian regimes in deploying the technology, which allows them to scan faces in crowds, compare the results with stored data and identify individuals in real time.

Civil rights advocates have warned that such “live” or “automated” facial recognition systems pave the way for mass surveillance on an unprecedented scale, but in a landmark case earlier this year, a U.K. court ruled that South Wales Police had used similar technology lawfully.

Earlier today, German news wire DPA reported that the German interior ministry dropped plans to roll out similar technology at over a hundred train stations across the country,