Skip to main content
FRT News

UK Crime and Policing Minister Pushes for Facial Recognition Scanning of Every Image of Suspected Shoplifting

By October 26, 2023No Comments

Countries like Argentina have put forward legislation that would allow for facial recognition cameras by police for either tracking fugitives or targeting “severe crime.” In contrast, the UK is calling for police to use FRT on all CCTV images of suspected shoplifting. Chris Philip, the Minister for Crime and Policing, has requested a “zero-tolerance” policy aimed at shoplifting be pushed in the coming weeks.   

Project Pegasus is the system by which retailers will be able to pay to have police run their CCTV footage or images through the police national database. Even more worrisome is that the Minister is attempting to merge the UK passport image database into the crime-focused system – not a purpose that travelers consented to when obtaining a passport. 

“Time and time again the government has relied on the social issue of the day to push through increasingly authoritarian measures. And that’s just what we’re seeing here with these extremely worrying proposals to encourage the police to scan our faces as we go to buy a pint of milk and trawl through our personal information.”  – Emmanuel Andrews, Liberty 

 Significance to the Canadian FRT Landscape 

Consent is a central tenant of data collection. All global citizens deserve the right to be given the opportunity to provide proper and informed consent when providing data about themselves – including biometric data.  

Biometric data, such as our faces, are inherently sensitive types of information. As mentioned in our Joint Letter of Concern on the government’s response to the ETHI Report on Facial Recognition Technology and the Growing Power of Artificial Intelligence, the use of FRT threatens human rights, equity principles, and fundamental freedoms including the right to privacy, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and the right to non-discrimination. AI systems are being adopted at an increasingly rapid pace and Canada needs meaningful legislation to prevent the harms that FRT poses. 

While we agree that Canada’s privacy protections need to meet the needs of an ever-evolving digital landscape, legislative and policy changes cannot be made at the cost of fundamental human rights or meaningful privacy protections. Together, we can work toward a digital landscape that prioritizes privacy, dignity, and human rights over profit.