Bishop of Oxford asks about facial recognition technology (FRT)

On 4th April 2022, the Bishop of Oxford asked a question during a debate on facial recognition technology and policing:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I declare an interest as a former board member of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. I wonder if the Minister would comment on the vital importance of establishing public trust and confidence in the deployment of FRT and indeed any new technology, especially in such a sensitive area as policing. A range of concerns have been raised about rapid deployment, governance and bias by the CDEI, the European Union and the makers of popular documentaries. Yet, in the face of this, the Met and South Wales Police have both announced a ramping up of the use of FRT. Does the Minister agree that it is time to slow this down and for urgent parliamentary scrutiny and better governance of the police’s use of facial recognition technology?

Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con): I do not think we need to slow it down—quite the contrary. It is important that this is done in a clear way: that the police explain why, who and where they are using their deployments. That must be explained by the police. I think this has great potential for good, and so I would not agree with the right reverend Prelate.


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