We’re facing the end of privacy in public, because of the unchecked rise of facial recognition technology (FRT) in public spaces, shops and bars. If you're in the UK, join ‘The End of Privacy in Public’ campaign to demand that your MP finds out if facial recognition cameras are being deployed in your local area.
The UK is sleepwalking towards the end of privacy in public. The spread of insidious Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) in public spaces across the country will mean we can no longer walk down our local highstreets without being subject to constant monitoring and identification by dystopian surveillance technology.
FRT is an extremely intrusive surveillance technology which uses video cameras in public spaces to harvest sensitive biometric data in the form of facial images from everybody who passes, identifying us and running our data against watchlists. This happens without our knowledge or consent in places like High Streets and supermarkets.
What makes this dystopian future even more disturbing is that there’s no meaningful control over who can use this pernicious technology, and how. Police forces and private companies across the UK are rolling out FRT at an alarming rate and in a legislative vacuum, since no specific law exists to restrict its use. Unchecked and indiscriminate mass surveillance will inevitably follow.
Concerned by the threat that the rise of FRT in public spaces poses to UK society, Privacy International conducted a survey of over 100 MPs which reveals that most don’t even know if it’s being used in their own constituency, and don’t understand how it undermines our human rights.
70% of MPs don’t know whether facial recognition is being used in their own constituency
Well over half (56%) of MPs either don’t know whether there is an FRT law, or wrongly think there is one! To be clear, there definitely isn’t!
Our research shows that politicians are ill-informed and complacent about this technology despite the serious threat it poses to our fundamental human rights, including the right to privacy, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression.
In June 2023, PI conducted a survey of UK MPs through YouGov, which highlighted their startling lack of knowledge of the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in their own constituencies, inspiring our new campaign about 'The End of Privacy in Public'.
PI has published a report advocating for 12 human rights-based legal standards to limit surveillance by police and law enforcement at protests. Our report explains how these standards are rooted in the rights to privacy and freedom of assembly and illustrates why these specific legal limits are necessary at every stage of a protest.
Today, a coalition of 31 civil society organisations release an open letter calling on Parliament to halt and ban the use of live facial recognition technology (LFRT) by the police and private companies.
Privacy InternationaI, Liberty, Defend Digital Me, Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch submitted a response to the College of Policing's public consultation on the Police use of live facial recognition technology.
In the response, we make it clear that all the aforementioned organisations believe that LFRT poses significant and unmitigable risks to our society.