Let's check in with our friends in England and, oh good, bloke fined after hiding face from police mug-recog cam

Well, it is the nation that brought us Nineteen Eighty-Four


Video A man was pulled to one side, grilled, and fined by cops after he hid his face from a facial-recognition system being tested on the streets of south east England.

London's Metropolitan Police was at the time running public tests of AI-powered equipment that takes photos of people out and about in the capital, and runs the pics through an image database of Brits on a watch list looking for a match.

Specifically, the system was being tested in Romford, a town on the outskirts of East London, and not all of its residents were happy about it. A middle-aged bloke wearing a baseball cap pulled up his fleece to hide the bottom half of his face as he walked past the camera to avoid identification.

He was then stopped by officers, who believed he was acting suspiciously, and quizzed. He was fined £90 (~$115) for "disorderly behavior," because, well, it seems the plod couldn't nab him for anything else.

“I said, ‘I don’t want me face showing on anything’. If I want to cover me face, I’ll cover me face. It’s not for them to not tell me to cover me face,” the chap later recalled.

The row was filmed by journalists working for BBC Click, the Beeb's tech TV programme. You can watch the kerfuffle unfolding below, in footage released earlier this week.

The Metropolitan Police have been trialing facial-recognition systems for a while now. The technology was rolled out to monitor partygoers attending the Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 and 2017, as well as at the Port of Hull docks and Stratford Transport Hub. Last year, it was estimated the technology had a whopping 98 per cent false positive rate. In January this year, it emerged that the Met had blown more than £200,000 on facial-recognition trials with little or no arrests to show for it.

Privacy orgs such as Big Brother Watch, a British nonprofit, have urged the plod to stop using the technology. The Information Commissioner, UK’s data protection watchdog, has launched an investigation into how the police are using face-scanning and biometric systems.

Facial-recognition tech is a contentious issue. Experts have been critical of its inaccuracies and biases. We've asked the Metropolitan Police for comment.

Elsewhere, in San Francisco, politicians have taken the matter into their own hands. It has become the first major city in the US, if not the Western world, to impose stringent rules and regulations on how the technology can be used by cops and city government departments. Private companies and federal departments are not affected, however, so some security cameras and airport scanners can still use facial recognition. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading
  • Utility biz Delta-Montrose Electric Association loses billing capability and two decades of records after cyber attack

    All together now - R, A, N, S, O...

    A US utility company based in Colorado was hit by a ransomware attack in November that wiped out two decades' worth of records and knocked out billing systems that won't be restored until next week at the earliest.

    The attack was detailed by the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) in a post on its website explaining that current customers won't be penalised for being unable to pay their bills because of the incident.

    "We are a victim of a malicious cyber security attack. In the middle of an investigation, that is as far as I’m willing to go," DMEA chief exec Alyssa Clemsen Roberts told a public board meeting, as reported by a local paper.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021