Liberty responds to Uber facial recognition rollout: an unjustified infringement of rights

26 November 2019

Liberty, the human rights organisation, has criticised the proposal by ride-hailing app Uber to force drivers in London to use facial recognition technology.

After Transport for London (TfL) found some drivers had been faking their identity, it suspended Uber’s operating licence on 25 November.

Uber said it would enforce the use of facial recognition scans against its drivers to try to fix the problem.

Liberty has been campaigning against the spread of facial recognition technology, an oppressive mass surveillance tool that uses a person’s unique biometric data to identify and potentially track them – often without their knowledge or consent.

Martha Spurrier, Liberty Director, said: ‘This announcement from Uber is extremely concerning because no employee should have to hand over such sensitive data to their employer. If you’re a low-paid worker you may feel you have no alternative but to comply with an unjustified infringement of your rights. It’s chilling to see such oppressive mass surveillance technology being normalised in this way by private companies.

‘The safety of Uber’s customers should not come at the expense of their workforce’s human rights.’

Liberty has been representing Cardiff resident Ed Bridges in his legal challenge to South Wales Police’s use of facial recognition. On 13 November, the Court of Appeal granted Bridges permission to appeal a previous decision, meaning the case will proceed next year.

Separately, over 12,000 people have signed Liberty’s petition calling for a ban on the use of this mass surveillance technology in Britain’s public spaces.