A PRIVACY-AWARE PUNTER has launched the first major legal challenge against the use of automated facial recognition (AFR) technology.
Supported by campaign group Liberty, ex-Lib Dem councillor Ed Bridges has crowdfunded action against South Wales Police over the use of the force's "authoritarian" use of the mug-scanning tech. He believes his image was captured while he was shopping in Cardiff, and later at a peaceful protest against the arms trade, and will argue that the use of the technology on him was an unlawful violation of privacy.
He will also argue it breaches data protection and equality laws during a three-day hearing at Cardiff civil justice and family centre.
"We don't live in an authoritarian state. We live in a democracy. The police started using this technology against me and thousands of other people in my area without warning or consultation," Bridges said on Tuesday.
"It's hard to see how the police could possibly justify such a disproportionate use of such an intrusive surveillance tool like this."
Liberty, which slammed the technology as akin to taking peoples' DNA or fingerprints without their knowledge or consent, reckons South Wales Police have used AFR tech on "some 50 occasions", including at the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff, where the tech misidentified some 2,200 people as criminals.
Megan Goulding, a lawyer at Liberty, said: "Facial recognition technology snatches our biometric data without our knowledge or consent, making a mockery of our right to privacy.
"It is discriminatory and takes us another step towards being routinely monitored wherever we go, fundamentally altering our relationship with state powers and changing public spaces. It belongs to a police state and has no place on our streets."
South Wales Police has yet to comment, but previously said it was In response to such words, South Wales Police have been "very cognizant of concerns surrounding privacy and are confident that our approach is lawful and proportionate." µ
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