In London, the facial recognition would be 81% of errors

This facial recognition system is intended to identify suspects in the crowd, thus facilitating greatly the work of the authorities. But this rate of error is impressive raises “real concerns” in relation to the use of Scotland Yard because of this technology. The authors of the study therefore requested the suspension of the program : in the light of their results, they estimate that, in the state, there would be “strong chance” that the system could be judged illegal if it was submitted to the judgment of a court. They cite to this a wide range of problems “of a technical, operational and legal”.

It is the first independent study of the system commissioned by Scotland Yard and performed by the University of Essex. The team of professor Pete Fussey and Dr Daragh Murray, therefore, has screened six of the ten tests conducted by the city. Out of 42 matches, only 8 have been identified as being correct – that is 19% of success to 81% error !

The Met (Metropolitan Police Service, the police in london) uses a different measure, which is based on the number of matches based on the total number of faces analyzed. This calculation method gives an error rate of approximately 0.1%, is far behind the 81% error reported by the study. This huge difference resulted in a pass of arms by the media interposed between the authorities who defend their system, and researchers to defend their conclusions.

The police officials are questioning the bias of the study, speaking of “tone, unbalanced and negative report” and ensure that the public expects them to put in place “innovative” to fight crime. For its part, the team claims to have conducted a “forensic analysis and academic detail of the documentation, on which is based the Puts for their tests”.

The facial recognition and the specter of Big Brother

The reactions to this report were not made to wait. The first came from Big Brother Watch, an activist group anti facial recognition, which now considers that this report should sound the death knell for the program of facial recognition.

If the reactions are too bright, this is mostly because many people believe that there is a real disproportion between the means employed and the profit. Even if the program is still in the testing phase, many consider that carrying out these tests in the actual condition instead of making innocent citizens under active surveillance, as opposed to simple records of surveillance cameras.This raises the issue of consent. In China, it justifies these means by a creed now well-known : “those who have nothing to hide have nothing to craidre “. In the West, the question remains tense. The BBC, for example, has captured a video of a hom^I who received a fine for his refusal to participate in a trial of facial recognition. According to the authors of the study, “dealing with the avoidance of these cameras as a suspicious behaviour” calls into question the foundations of informed consent “.

It is one of the arguments that have made the city of San Francisco has decided toabandon purely and simply the use of facial recognition, which announced that it did not “want a police state”.

There is also a certain vagueness about the lists of individuals to watch : earlier in the year, a senior engineer of Met was estimated that it would take a large investment to ensure that all individuals present on these lists the are legally.

It is not the first time that the current limitations of facial recognition are displayed; it is recalled that in 2017, this system was used during the final of the Champions League in Cardiff. And the results were disappointing : on the 2470 matches identified, 92% were false positives, that is to say, simple passers-by that the algorithm has recognised as individuals placed on the list of trouble-makers, potential …

Facial recognition still has a long way to go before you to become democratic in the West, unlike China where it is already very well established for example. In the light of these results, one may wonder if the chinese authorities simply have a system that is much more effective, or if the their is subject to the same problems, and this would raise many other issues.