Coronavirus / Facial recognition

Liberty: pandemic must not be used to normalise technology that threatens our rights

Posted on 04 May 2020

Liberty has raised concerns over the Government’s approach to using technology in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the severe implications for our rights and a concerning lack of transparency over these projects.

Responding to reports that facial recognition technology could play a role in Government plans for “immunity passports”, Hannah Couchman, policy and campaigns officer said: “This pandemic must not be used as cover to normalise technology that threatens our rights.

“Facial recognition is an intrusive surveillance tool, that even before this pandemic posed enormous risks to our privacy and our ability to live freely. Using it as part of any lockdown exit strategy is not just a dangerous expansion of state surveillance, it puts additional risk on people who will be under pressure to return to work, and therefore to sacrifice their rights.

“It’s important to explore the opportunities offered by new technology, but there is no digital sticking plaster to address this public health emergency. The way forward must not be presented as a trade-off between privacy and public health. The Government can, and must, create a public health strategy that maintains public trust and protects our rights.”

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