Home Secretary Sajid Javid has rejected warnings about the potential dangers of facial recognition technology - most recently issued by the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham - to back the police as forces across England and Wales step up their trials.
In a BBC interview, Javid backed the Metropolitan Police in its tests of facial recognition. The Home Office then released a statement backing the minister. It read: “We support the police as they trial new technologies to protect the public, including facial recognition, which can help them identity criminals."
The move comes just days after Denham joined the warnings over the possible dangers of facial recognition by insisting the potential for bias and intrusions into people’s privacy are causes for concern, and that police forces should provide demonstrable evidence that it is necessary to use the technology.
Meanwhile, last month the University of Essex Human Rights Centre published a report claiming there have been significant flaws in how live facial recognition had been tested by the Met Police and called for all trials to be halted.
In addition, privacy group Liberty has opened a legal challenge against the use of the technology by South Wales Police.
The Home Office said: “The Government believes that there is a legal framework for the use of live facial recognition technology, although that is being challenged in the courts and we would not want to pre-empt the outcome of this case.
“We support an open debate about the balance between public protection and privacy, and the Home Office is reviewing options to simplify and extend the current governance and oversight arrangements for biometrics.”