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Proposed limitations on the use of facial recognition technology

Liberal Democrat peer and former managing partner of law firm DLA Piper, Lord Clement-Jones, is calling for a review of the use of facial recognition technology and a moratorium of its use for overt surveillance.

Following concerns of adding artificial intelligence to the country’s already comprehensive surveillance coverage, Lord Clement-Jones this week presented a bill to the House of Lords that, if passed, would prohibit the use of automated facial recognition technology in public places to stop unregulated usage of such technologies.

The proposed bill includes exemptions for technology which were pre-approved by the Government. These exemptions include:

  • national security,
  • public safety or
  • crime prevention reasons.

The maximum punishment would be imprisonment for 51 weeks (in England and Wales) or 6 months (in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Although it is unclear whether this draft law will progress to the House of Commons, the sentiment of the bill is shared by the Information Commissioner who also calls for best practice in the use of these technologies to be developed before it becomes easily accessed.

The basis for this bill is understandable, but it does present a question as to where the balance falls between technology being a good thing and it becoming too invasive on our everyday lives.


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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