The image of British resident Ed Bridges was filmed twice using Automatic Facial Recognition (AFR) technology, which he said violated his rights. The Court of Appeal ruled that the use of AFR by the South Wales police was illegal. The lawsuit was filed by civil rights group Liberty and injured Ed Bridges, according to the BBC.
South Wales police said they would not appeal the findings. The complainant said his AFR identification caused him anxiety. The court upheld three of the five points of the complaint.
It states that there are no clear guidelines as to where AFR Locate can be used and who can be watched, data protection impact assessment has been insufficient, and system managers have not taken reasonable steps to determine if the software has racial or gender bias.
The appeal followed the dismissal of Bridges’ case in the London High Court in September by two senior justices who concluded that the technology was not illegal.
The victim said he was delighted that the court agreed that facial recognition “clearly threatens our rights.”
This technology is an intrusive and discriminatory tool of mass surveillance. For three years now, the South Wales police have used it against hundreds of thousands of us, without our consent and often without our knowledge. We must all be able to use public spaces without being subjected to repressive surveillance.
Bridges’ face was scanned while shopping for Christmas in Cardiff in 2017 and during a peaceful gun protest outside the city’s Motorpoint arena in 2018. He claimed that it violated his human rights when his biometric data was analyzed without his knowledge or consent.
Liberty attorney Megan Goulding called the verdict “a major victory in the fight against discriminatory and repressive facial recognition.”
It is time for the government to acknowledge the grave danger of this intrusive technology. Facial recognition is a threat to our freedom, it has no place on our streets. ”
Megan Goulding, Liberty attorney
The technology displays faces in the crowd by measuring the distance between objects, then compares the results to a “watchlist” of images, which can include suspects, missing persons, and people of interest.
The South Wales Police Force has been using this system since 2017, predominantly at major sporting events, concerts, and other major events within the security forces.
Law enforcement confirmed that Mr. Bridges was not of interest and was never on the watch list.