Facial recognition

Legal Challenge: Ed Bridges v South Wales Police

We acted as solicitors for Ed Bridges, who challenged South Wales Police’s use of live facial recognition in public.

In the world’s first legal challenge to police use of this tech, Ed argued the force was breaching rights to privacy, data protection laws, and equality laws.

South Wales Police has used the tech on more than 60 occasions since May 2017 and may have taken sensitive facial biometric data from 500,000 people without their consent.

In September 2019, the High Court decided that while facial recognition does interfere with the privacy rights of everyone scanned, the current legal framework provides sufficient safeguards.

We disagreed, and appealed against the judgment.

In August 2020, the Court of Appeal agreed with Liberty’s submissions and found South Wales Police’s use of facial recognition technology breaches privacy rights, data protection laws and equality laws.

The judgment means the police force leading the use of facial recognition on UK streets must halt its long-running trial.

The Court held that there were “fundamental deficiencies” in the legal framework and that Ed Bridges’ rights were breached as a result.

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