LONDONERS COULD find themselves being watched more than ever, as it emerges that one of its most up-and-coming estates is using facial recognition on crowds.
The notoriously shonky technology has rolled out across the whole King's Cross estate - 67-acres of surveillance - according to a report in the Financial Times.
The recently redeveloped area includes Google's headquarters for the UK, as well as the head office of its AI subsidiary DeepMind. It also encompasses parts of Central St Martins' College, schools and shops.
"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," said a spokesman.
But it's not just King's Cross. The report also reveals plans to roll out similar facial recognition tech in the Canary Wharf estate, which could cover even more faces, albeit faces attached to anonymous business attire.
The Canary Wharf Group is looking at bringing facial recognition to its 97-acre estate which includes a number of major financial institutions, not to mention the huge HSBC and Citigroup skyscrapers.
It's thought that 140,000 people would pass the cameras every day, but would only be used in the case of a specific threat, not every day. This is in addition to the existing 1750 CCTV cameras and number plate recognition (ANPR) already in place.
Under GDPR legislation, anyone who enters an area with facial recognition has to give explicit permission for their mug-data to be used, but with the laws still bedding in, it's not entirely clear what 'explicit permission' means in this context. Plus, of course, GDPR won't apply to us post-Brexit, so what happens them will be down to the government and more specifically Home Secretary Priti Patel.
But it's also worth remembering that both King's Cross and Canary Wharf are private estates, so the rules could be a lot more flexible for them than for a public highway.
This is a massive problem because so far, attempts to roll out facial recognition have been less than successful, with Met Police attempts showing a massive majority of recognitions proving completely wrong. μ
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