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UK uses facial recognition to monitor convicted migrants

Home Office plan to biometrically scan the faces of convicted migrants who have been punished has been slammed by privacy and human rights groups for being discriminatory

Sebastian Klovig SkeltonSebastian Klovig Skelton

Sebastian Klovig Skelton Sebastian Klovig Skelton

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  • Sebastian Klovig Skelton, Senior Reporter

Published: August 10, 2022 7:53

Immigrants convicted of criminal activity requiring up to five facial recognition scans a day under a plan drawn up by the Home Office, which activists and experts have denounced as “racial surveillance”.

Office Data Protection Impact Assessment from August 2021 ( DPIA) – obtained by campaign organisation Privacy International via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, followed by Guardian – The program will involve “daily monitoring of individuals subject to immigration control”, requiring appropriate ankle tags or supports to be worn at all times Facial recognition smart watch.

Privacy International also identified a Government contract for electronic monitoring and biometric identification of “selected groups” awarded to wearables maker Buddi in May 2022 as part of the Home Office’s satellite tracking service.

when the contract was tendered by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)), a spokesperson told Computer We Apparently, Because it has flagged offenders and the system is in place, the contract was made by MoJ on behalf of the Home Office, but other than that, the policy has nothing to do with MoJ.

Sebastian Klovig Skelton DPIA says smartwatch-wearing migrants will be forced to use cameras to submit photos five times a day with images of their bios held by the Home Office Eigenface information is cross-referenced. If image validation fails, it will be checked manually.

Computer Weekly asked the Home Office what the manual verification process entails, but received no response as of press time.

Sebastian Klovig Skelton It further adds that there will be “24/7 tracking of locations, allowing tracking of monitoring data to be recorded”, along with a range of information – including their names, dates of birth , Nationality and Photos – for up to six years. Data will be shared between the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Police.

will be launched in the UK in the autumn with an initial cost of £6m planned by the Home Office, although the number of devices to be produced and the cost of each smartwatch have been edited in the contract .

Another Home Office contract worth £150,000, named For Proc764 Migrant Tracker, also awarded Barcode Warehouse in July 2022 to “provide barcode wristbands and corresponding scanning equipment, as well as asset tracking software”.

Computer Weekly asked the Home Office about contracts, and electronic Monitoring whether immigration is part of the same policy has received no response as of publication. Computer Weekly also asked The Barcode Warehouse, but again got no response.

The Home Office says the smartwatch scheme will only apply to Convicted “foreign citizen” offenders, not any other immigrants, and “portable biometric devices” are being introduced to complement the existing use of ankle tags.

In statement to

The Guardian , it added : “The public expects us to monitor convicted foreign criminals, and to suggest that the contract applies to asylum seekers arriving by illegal means is simply false. The Home Office has successfully flagged more than 2,500 foreign criminals since August 2021, Reassure victims that their perpetrators cannot escape the law and will be deported from the UK as soon as possible.

“Since January 2019, the government has cleared more than 10,000 foreign criminals. Foreign criminals should have no doubts about our resolve to deport them, and the government is doing everything possible to increase the number of deported foreign criminals. “

However, University of London Monish Bhatia, a lecturer in criminology at Birkbeck, pointed out on Twitter that the Home Office’s surveillance policy – which he described as “racial surveillance” – targets people who have already served their sentences and are released back into the community.

“First of all, the *personsmarked have *finishedtheir punishment. They were flagged by the immigration system as an administrative measure,” he said, adding that his own research on the impact of electronic monitoring of immigration showed that some participants experienced symptoms of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

“This is an invasive control technique that adversely affects the health and well-being of migrants . The Home Office has not provided any evidence why electronic monitoring is needed or attesting that tags would enable individuals to better comply with immigration rules. What we need are humane, non-degrading, non-punitive, community-based solutions. ”

Computer Weekly asked the Home Office for its The rationale for tracing those who have been convicted and serving sentences, and whether it could provide any evidence to justify the need for surveillance, has received no response.

Lucie Audibert, attorney and attorney at Privacy International, said: “Facial recognition is notoriously imperfect and dangerous technology that tends to discriminate against people of color. and marginalized communities. These “innovations” in policing and surveillance are often driven by private companies that profit from the government’s race for total surveillance and control of the population.

“Through their opaque technology and algorithms, they are It fuels government discrimination and human rights abuses without accountability. No other country in Europe has deployed such dehumanizing and invasive techniques against migrants.”

According to Sam Grant, policy and campaign director at human rights group Liberty, facial recognition is a “discriminatory and oppressive” surveillance tools, it will not make people safer and will only further deepen patterns of discrimination.

“The use of surveillance technology affects all of us, but always would have a greater impact on marginalized groups. So it’s no surprise that this administration is deploying facial recognition as part of its racist hostile environment,” he said.

“The government intends to undermine privacy and spy on us, as well as tear Refugee protection. In addition to the government’s new anti-refugee law and plans to monitor immigrants 24/7, the Metropolitan Police is ramping up the use of real-time facial recognition in crowded public spaces, and the Public Order Bill will introduce a protest ban, requiring protests The person was labelled.

“Impossible for the danger posed by Regulation is carried out through a technique that is oppressive by design. ”

In February 2021, Privacy International published a Report of the UK Privatisation Immigration Monitoring System , which states that the close relationship between immigration authorities and the technology sector means “UK authorities are able to invoke intrusive surveillance powers comparable to anyone else in the world”.

It also states that private tech companies involved in developing and maintaining a series of digital surveillance by UK immigration authorities tools are rarely scrutinized or held accountable for their involvement in border regimes.

Computer Weekly reached out to Buddi about its involvement in the Home Office plan to biometrically scan the faces of convicted immigrants, but received no response as of press time.

In March 2022, the UK government was also attacked by lawyers, human rights groups and immigration support groups for spending tens of millions An attack on the use of sterling for border surveillance technology to deter and help punish migrants crossing the English Channel, rather than using these resources to provide safe, legal routes into the country.

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