BBC – Victims of facial recognition misidentification

Big Brother Watch Team / May 26, 2024

A 19-year-old teenager was wrongly flagged as a suspected shoplifter by facial recognition cameras while shopping in a Home Bargains store. She was searched, publicly thrown out of the store, told by staff that she was a thief, and banned from shops across the UK using the same software provided by a private company called Facewatch.

A number of stores up and down the country use this Orwellian technology by the same provider, Facewatch.

Sara (not her real name) said, “I was just crying and crying the entire journey home… I thought, ‘Oh, will my life be the same? I’m going to be looked at as a shoplifter when I’ve never stolen’.”

In a separate incident, Shaun, a community worker fighting knife crime through the youth advocacy group Street Fathers, was stopped by police using live facial recognition technology on London Bridge on his way home. He was wrongly called a criminal, asked to give his fingers and held there for twenty minutes. He was only let go after he provided a form of identification.

“I was angry that I had been stopped by a flawed technology that misidentified me as someone else and was treated as though I was guilty,” Shaun said.

Silkie Carlo of the privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch filmed the stop at London Bridge.

She said, “once the police can say this is OK, this is something that we can do routinely, why not put it into the fixed-camera networks?”

BBC – ‘I was misidentified as shoplifter by facial recognition tech’

MyLondon – Anti-knife activist brings legal challenge to Met after he’s detained in facial recognition failure