Face masks prompt London police to consider pause in rollout of facial recognition cameras
In London, the use of facial recognition technologies has been hindered by its resident’s use of face coverings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The wearing of face masks has incapacitated the technology for the time being. The UK has adopted surveillance technology over the past several years, despite privacy concerns and criticism from its residents. An investigation into the practice and deployment of facial recognition technology was launched last year by the Information Commissioner’s Office after claims that cameras installed at King’s Cross, a busy train station, were surveilling the public without explicit consent.
The UK Information Commissioner eventually declared the surveillance a concerning threat to privacy. Despite this incident, the Metropolitan Police has also been using the facial recognition technology throughout London, having deployed cameras with the ability to scan faces and identify wanted criminals throughout the city. As residents begin to wear face masks on a daily basis when in public, however, these technologies are rendered largely useless.