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.

Go deeper

McConnell: Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will help GOP retain Senate

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed no regrets about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's controversial confirmation, telling Politico in an interview that he believes the decision to place her on the Supreme Court just a week before the election will help Republicans retain the Senate.

Why it matters: With a week to go until Election Day, many Republicans are concerned that President Trump's unpopularity could cost them the Senate. McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.

46 mins ago - Podcasts

The fight over fracking

Fracking has become a flashpoint in the election's final week, particularly in Pennsylvania where both President Trump and Joe Biden made stops on Monday. But much of the political rhetoric has ignored that the industry has gone from boom to bust, beset by layoffs, bankruptcies and fire-sale mergers.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of fracking, and what it means for the future of American energy, with Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group.

Democrats sound alarm on mail-in votes

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Democrats are calling a last-minute audible on mail-in voting after last night's Supreme Court ruling on Wisconsin.

Driving the news: Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic secretary of state of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes. They are warning that the USPS may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.