The UK’s data privacy regulator is examining property developer Argent’s use of facial recognition technology in the King’s Cross area of London.
Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner, issued a statement: “Scanning people’s faces as they lawfully go about their daily lives, in order to identify them, is a potential threat to privacy that should concern us all. That is especially the case if it is done without people’s knowledge or understanding.”
Denham added she is “deeply concerned” about the growing use of facial recognition technology in public spaces, “not only by law enforcement agencies but also increasingly by the private sector”.
ICO and the judiciary are both independently considering the legal issues and whether the current framework has kept pace with emerging technologies and people’s expectations about how their most sensitive personal data is used.
The governmental office will be requiring detailed information from the relevant organisations about how the technology is used and will also inspect the system and its operation on-site to assess whether or not it complies with data protection law.
“Put simply, any organisations wanting to use facial recognition technology must comply with the law – and they must do so in a fair, transparent and accountable way. They must have documented how and why they believe their use of the technology is legal, proportionate and justified,” warned Denham.
Developer and investor British Land’s use of facial recognition during a trial at Meadowhall in Sheffield, over a year ago, has also been brought to the fore.
Proptech commentator and advisor Antony Slumbers had this to say on the topic:
Hmm @BritishLandPLC now getting it in the neck, on #r4today, about facial recognition being used at Meadowhall shopping centre. The real estate industry needs to wake up about this. Or at least have perfect explanations & guidelines available.
— Antony Slumbers (@antonyslumbers) August 16, 2019