Jun 18, 2018

Facial recognition in the U.K. faces legal challenge

Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A British privacy watchdog is preparing to mount a legal challenge to the use of AI-based facial recognition technology in the U.K.

Why it matters: Law enforcement around the world is increasingly using real-time facial recognition. The technology is already widespread in China and is used by some police departments in the U.S.

The details: The UK has an extensive video-surveillance system. Several police departments — including London's — have experimented with using surveillance cameras for real-time facial recognition, which uses AI to scan the faces of passersby in a live video feed and try to match them to photo databases.

Accuracy issues: Proponents say the systems help police fight crime — the South Wales Police said in May that theirs had led to more than 450 arrests — but their accuracy varies. Big Brother Watch, the group preparing to sue in the U.K., found that 102 out of 104 people were incorrectly identified during a recent facial-recognition trial in London.

Across the Atlantic: A group of researchers at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology estimated in 2016 that half of Americans appear in at least one police facial-recognition database. Obviously, most of those people are not suspected of committing crimes — in fact, the Georgetown report found that only 8 percent of the photos in the FBI's databases show known criminals.

Face recognition surveillance — identifying people in real-time from live video feeds — risks being an imminent reality for many Americans.
— Clare Garvie, associate at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology, in a Big Brother Watch report

What's next: Big Brother Watch has criticized what it calls the "lawless growth of Orwellian surveillance" in the U.K. and is gearing up to bring a lawsuit against the police, arguing that automated facial recognition violates the European Convention of Human Rights.

Go deeper: The Georgetown report on police face recognition, "The Perpetual Line-up," is an eye-opening survey of how the technology is used in the U.S.

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Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.

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National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

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Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

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Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 cases in matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

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