This tweet generated over 200 replies … with a real split between those who will NEVER fly again and those who are either resigned to the intrinsic use of AFR technologies for travel or think the security afforded by the technologies is a good thing.

AFR technologies have been used in Canadian airports since 2017. Our EU biometric passports utilise AFR technology. These e-passports have a chip in them with the holder’s facial biometric. And, as I said in a previous post, research in to AFR began in the 1960s with the work of Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson.

Despite the seemingly unstoppable rollout of AFR for border security, what can be questioned is its use in public life. Should we have AFR in the high street or in hospitals? Should it be used at football games or at music concerts? It is already happening in some of these places. That is why Ed Bridges, represented by Liberty, is taking South Wales Police to court for their use of AFR in public spaces. ‘South Wales Police has used facial recognition in public spaces on at least 22 occasions since May 2017. Ed believes his face was scanned by South Wales Police at both a peaceful anti-arms protest and while doing his Christmas shopping.’ (Liberty website accessed 25-04-19).

Ed Bridges says:

“Without warning the police have used this invasive technology on peaceful protesters and thousands of people going about their daily business, providing no explanation of how it works and no opportunity for us to consent. The police’s indiscriminate use of facial recognition technology on our streets makes our privacy rights worthless and will force us all to alter our behaviour – it needs to be challenged and it needs to stop.”

The key here is that the indiscriminate use of AFR, without regulation or limits, will force us all to alter our behaviour. It thwarts our right to autonomous action and therefore, limits our individual and collective potential to envision and create a better future.

Postscript: That ‘final’ sentence clearly indicates my inherent bias and so in the interests of balance this is a link from digital security company Gemalto with an article published this month on the current trends in AFR (its a good read and worth going to) https://www.gemalto.com/govt/biometrics/facial-recognition.

BTW: many thanks to Dr Ian Cook who forwarded me the tweet. It provided many hours of onward links.