Police scanned 20,000 innocent fans with facial recognition technology at recent Swansea City v Cardiff City match

South Wales Police have confirmed that they scanned 20,000 innocent fans with live facial recognition at the recent  Swansea City v Cardiff City match.

The police force commented that they are using the technology in order to identify ‘potential troublemakers’. Angry fans vowed to wear Halloween masks to protest the use of this intrusive and Orwellian surveillance technology.

An increasing amount of people say facial recognition technology should be banned as it is believed it violates basic human rights, erodes freedoms and is a danger to civil liberties. Commentators also say it is a waste of public money and police time and treats fans like criminals.

Credit: Football Supporters Association

Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Thousands of innocent fans who’ve never committed a crime in their life, even children, will have their data collected by police.

“We stand by fans who are rightly alarmed and outraged. The police decision to target them with intrusive mass surveillance treats all fans as suspects, damages trust and is a total waste of public money. Police are eroding basic civil liberties whilst politicians look the other way.”

The reintroduction of the sinister software comes after a recent Cardiff high court ruling when a judge ruled that police use of facial recognition was legal in response to a case against South Wales Police created by Cardiff resident Ed Bridges. The case is believe to be the first of its kind in the world.

Vince Alms, spokesperson for Football Supporters Association Wales, strongly condemned use of the technology. Talking to Metro he said: “We strongly oppose the police decision to use facial recognition. It’s just a local football match, yet we haven’t had a say and we can’t opt out.

“Thousands of innocent fans who have never committed a crime in their lives, including children, will have their faces scanned and data collected by police. ‘It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a surveillance state.”

Cardiff City fans protested against South Wales Police’s decision to deploy facial recognition technology at the recent game against Swansea. The Football Supporters Association also share the concerns expressed by Football Supporters Association Wales and other civil liberties groups, and are wholly opposed to football fans being used as guinea pigs.

Big Brother Watch, a privacy campaigning group, are pursuing a crowdfunded legal challenge against the Metropolitan Police and Home Secretary over their use of facial recognition surveillance.

Main picture by Big Brother Watch


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