Big Brother Watch has called on the Information Commissioner’s Office to throw the book at the King’s Cross Central development firm over its use of facial recognition software, despite claims the system was fully compliant with GDPR.
Property development giant Argent insisted it used the technology to “ensure public safety” but the ICO launched an investigation last month, following claims the technology in place at the 67-acre London site is riding roughshod over consumers’ privacy.
The ICO probe follows concerns raised by London mayor Sadiq Khan about the legality of the technology.
Now, in a letter sent by Argent in response to the issues raised by Khan, the firm said it wanted facial-recognition software to spot people on the site who had previously committed an offence there.
In the letter, Argent partner Robert Evans wrote: “We introduced a limited facial-recognition capability alongside our CCTV system in 2015, limited to two cameras along King’s Boulevard, to help deploy and direct our estate teams. However, ongoing construction work in the areas means that this system has not been operational continually since that date.
“The facial-recognition system is not currently operational and has not been so for over 12 months.”
The letter goes on to say Argent had been audited by an independent company to ensure it was compliant with GDPR and said it intended to work with the ICO before turning on its upgraded system to ensure it was fully compliant with the law.
Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo said: “It is an absolute scandal that this has been going on, apparently in secret, in the centre of London for years. We hope the ICO takes the most robust available action.”
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