UK Information Commissioner calls for binding code of practice on facial recognition use by LEAs

The UK Information Commissioner is calling on the UK government to introduce a statutory and binding code of practice on the deployment of live facial recognition technology (LFR) by law enforcement authorities (LEA). An investigation launched by the Commissioner into the trials of LFR by the Metropolitan Police Service and the South Wales Police found that ‘ the current combination of laws codes and practices relating to LFR will not drive the ethical and legal approach that’s needed to truly manage the risk that this technology presents.’ The code of practice recommended by the Commissioner is described as necessary to give the police and the public enough knowledge as to when and how the police can use facial recognition systems in public spaces. The Commissioner has also issued an opinion on the use of HRT by law enforcement in public spaces, which notes that a high statutory threshold has to be met to justify the use of facial recognition and demonstrate accountability, in line with UK data protection legislation. The opinion also outlines the need for a balance between the privacy that people expect daily and the surveillance technology that the police needs to effectively carry out the role.