Lincolnshire police trial CCTV technology which can detect moods, eyewear and headgear, but not before a human rights and privacy assessment is carried out.
Lincolnshire police will soon debut their trial of CCTV cameras in Gainsborough. This is a new, more complicated and potentially controversial type of Surveillance technology. Although the funding for this project has been approved and received, due to privacy concerns surrounding the use of this technology, the implementation of the new equipment is at a standstill. Key legal considerations need to be made before this could be released and used in the general public, as this technology has the ability to search for persons using parameters surrounding their mood, or their apparel such as hats or sunglasses. Due to the fact that the police have full control of the search parameters; the technology is inherently problematic, as was in case of court rulings as recently as 2018.
A Welsh national had brought a legal case against the authorities for their use of a very similar facial recognition technology, and this has raised the specter of many ideological and privacy concerns when it comes to the Police having unquestionable access to intrusive means of surveillance, and monitoring persons who may not be suspected or involved in any crimes. Although Mr. Bridges did not have instant success with his claim, as his first petition to the High Court was denied, in his subsequent Court of Appeal claim; three out of five of the unconstitutional breaches of privacy Mr. Bridges presented were ratified as legally valid in the court.
The police have acknowledged, and made attempts at addressing the public’s privacy concerns regarding the use of this technology.
Privacy concerns are a very important consideration prior to the establishment of this new technology for everyday use. The police have tried to give some assurance to the public that their rights are of paramount importance in the means and the protocols surrounding this technology and how it is used. The local police have also released some preliminary information which may ease public anxiety around the implementation of this technology; the scans are not being done in live time and also, all footage is deleted after 31 days.
Legislation continues to be introduced regarding privacy and surveillance.
There are also larger debates surrounding the appropriate search terms allowed and under what circumstances they can be implemented in a situation where this new surveillance technology is to be in use. Legislation around government surveillance also has seen changes in recent years since the Ed Bridges case, and it continues to be reformed, in an attempt to encompass everyone’s well-being without stripping them of the fundamental privacies and rights allotted to them.
According to Cristina Contero Almagro, partner at Aphaia, ‘The risk is twofold: first, the police using the technology without the appropriate safeguards and second, the information being compromised and used maliciously by third-parties which may access it unlawfully. Considering the nature of the data involved, it is essential to put in place strong security measures which ensure the data will be adequately protected. It is important to note that once that biometric information has been exposed, the damage to the rights and freedoms of the affected data subjects is incalculable, as it is not something that can be changed like a password’.
‘Any facial recognition that includes profiling should be viewed with suspicion,’ comments Dr Bostjan Makarovic, Aphaia’s Managing Partner. ‘The challenge is that there is no way to object to such profiling because it takes place in real time as one enters a certain area. Law enforcement and public safety are important reasons but should not be used as a blanket justification without further impact assessment.’