Government given Thursday deadline on court action over facial recognition

My solicitors have written to the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police giving them until the 28th June to either stop using automated facial recognition technology or prove that they have a lawful basis to use it. This is their final chance before Big Brother Watch and I jointly initiate judicial review proceedings in the High Court, where we will ask a judge to rule that automated facial recognition is an unlawful breach of our human rights.

I have tried raising the issues of automated facial recognition in Parliament on a number of occasions, including by forcing a House of Lords debate on the issue earlier this year. I have voiced my concerns that there is no legal or regulatory framework for the technology and no safeguards for our human rights. But the Government has failed to act on these problems, and I am left with no choice but to take legal action to protect our human rights against this unwarranted state intrusion.

My specific complaints against the Government focus on the interference that automated facial recognition could have on my human rights and my democratic duties as a parliamentarian. Among other things, I am deeply concerned that automated facial recognition could allow police to identify whistleblowers and campaigners who come to me in confidence. In addition, the use of automated facial recognition at large events such as protests and rallies could make people less willing to exercise their human rights to assemble and express their views, for fear of being identified and logged by the police. I believe we have a clear case that our human rights are being breached without any lawful basis, therefore making automated facial recognition illegal.

Big Brother Watch and I will be instructing one of the top QCs in this area of law, who has clocked up an impressive list of wins, repeatedly defeating the Government in the Supreme Court on their illegal retention of DNA and custody images. Please support the crowdfunder to help pay for the legal costs of this important public interest case, and stay tuned for an update after the deadline of Thursday 28th June.