UK WATCHDOG the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is to investigate the use of facial recognition tech at the King's Cross estate in London.
It was revealed on Monday that the notoriously shonky technology has rolled out across the whole 67-acre, 50-building King's Cross development site, where you'll find Google's headquarters for the UK, as well as the head office of its AI subsidiary DeepMind.
While the owners of the site have defended their use of the mug-scanning tech, noting that the cameras have "sophisticated systems in place to protect the privacy of the general public," the ICO isn't happy about it and has said it will investigate whether the rollout is necessary and has a legal basis.
"Since new data protection laws came into effect on 25 May 2018 there are extra protections for people. These require organisations to assess and reduce the privacy risks of using new and intrusive surveillance technologies like automatic facial recognition," an ICO spokesperson said.
"Organisations wishing to automatically capture and use images of individuals going about their business in public spaces need to provide clear evidence to demonstrate it is strictly necessary and proportionate for the circumstances and that there is a legal basis for that use."
News of the controversial rollout hasn't gone down well with privacy campaigners, either. Hannah Couchman, a policy and campaigns officer from Liberty, told the Guardian that the King's Cross rollout amounted to "a disturbing expansion of mass surveillance that threatens our privacy and freedom of expression as we go about our everyday lives
"There has been no transparency about how this tool is being deployed and who it is targeting," she added.
As per the FT's report on Monday, the Canary Wharf Group is also 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, though the system would reportedly only be used in the case of a specific threat, not every day. µ
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