New documents obtained by privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch reveal that 556 out of 790 people on Northamptonshire police’s facial recognition watchlist were not suspected of any crime, raising serious concerns about the use of this technology at the British Grand Prix.
This damning evidence raises questions of proportionality for campaigners as police scanned around 400,000 people at the British Grand Prix and no arrests were made. Campaigners have good reason to believe that this technology was deployed to clamp down on protestors as the previous year saw climate protestors climbing onto the tracks.
Madeleine Stone, senior advocacy officer at Big Brother Watch said:
“Live facial recognition is a dystopian mass surveillance tool that turns streets into police lineups. Deploying this biometric surveillance to track protesters is an authoritarian step that aligns the UK with the likes of Russia and China.”
“The composition of this watchlist suggests that police forces are increasingly using this technology not only to make arrests but to monitor the location of innocent members of the public.”
Orwellian facial recognition surveillance is also increasingly being used in the retail setting with the Government pushing for more surveillance under the guise of tackling low-level crime in shops. A coalition of 14 human rights groups has called on major UK retailers to stop the use of facial recognition in shops.