UK Police Scanning Festival-Goers’ Faces

/ 9 years ago


Attendees at this weekend’s Download Festival in Donington have been subject to a rather Orwelian process of facial scans and RFID tracking by UK police. Leicestershire Police implemented the advanced surveillance technologies to detect and identify known criminals.

The NeoFace facial recognition system has been used with the festival’s CCTV/IPTV network to compare the faces of music fans in Donington to a photographic database of recorded felons, while Download’s own wristbands contain RFID chips, provided by German firm YouChip. NeoFace, developed by NEC, works by “integrating face matching technology with video surveillance input, while checking individuals against known photographic watch lists, and producing real-time alerts,” with every face caught on camera being analysed and compared to known criminals.

Detective Constable Kevin Walker of Leicestershire Police revealed to the Police Oracle that “Strategically placed cameras will scan faces at the Download Festival site in Donington before comparing [them] with a database of custody images from across Europe,” while The Register discovered that the photo database being used is comprised of “lawfully held European custody photos” and is “a stand-alone database of legally held custody photographs drawn together with partners in Europol.”

Though The Register also discovered, via a freedom of information request, that “NeoFace has been intentionally limited in scope to ensure that it only uses images held on our custody database. It is a stand-alone system that does not link with other national databases such as the PNC,” its use at a public music festival is concerning; a sanctioned, intrusive invasion of privacy, conducted quietly, and with scant justification.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

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