Use of Facial Recognition Technology: Violation of Rights to Privacy or a Fight Against Crime

The use of technology has impacted every sector of life since its emergence and the criminal justice system is not exempted. The use of facial recognition technologies by the police department to investigate and solve criminal matters has been a major talking point, as there is a need to strike a balance between protecting the citizens’ right to privacy and providing security for the society.
Recently, Britain’s Court of Appeal held that the South Wales’ police force use of facial recognition technology violates human rights to privacy and data protection laws. The claim that the Automated Facial Recognition (AFR) technology violated the right to private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Data Protection Legislation and the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act (2010) was upheld. The police force makes use of the AFR to determine if two facial images show the same person, the comparison is done with faces of people on the wanted list. Therefore, this results in unwarranted processing of sensitive personal data by the police.
In the United States, there has been strong opposition against it, especially after California passed a law that puts a temporary ban against the use of facial recognition in body cameras used by the police. On the other hand, the use of facial recognition technology has been part of the everyday policing in Florida. There are reports that the state’s facial recognition system has over 30 million images which include driver’s license result, mugshots, juvenile record photos, and so on.
On the part of the Police Department, it is claimed that the use of Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology will help to tackle serious violence, gun and knife crimes, sexual offences and help to protect vulnerable people in the society. Thus, it is believed that this legislation conforms to the law, takes ethical concerns into account and respects the human right. While the debate for the usage of this technology rages on, the police department is of the strong belief that it is a tool that can be used to single out dangerous criminals.
Conclusively, the use of facial recognition technology by the police has come under scrutiny around the world, especially with the belief that unlimited discretion is left in the hands of individuals. Also, considering that facial recognition has been used in several personal gadgets like phones and computers, the need to respect and uphold human rights to privacy cannot be overemphasized.

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