NEWS3 September 2019

Facial recognition tech ‘not currently used’ at King’s Cross

GDPR News Privacy Travel UK

UK – Facial recognition technology is no longer in use at London’s King’s Cross area and there are “no plans” to reintroduce it, the site’s developer has said after the ICO launched a probe into the issue.

Security camera facial recognition_crop

Facial recognition technology (FRT) was used in two cameras at the site between May 2016 and March 2018, but has not been deployed since then, the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) said in a statement yesterday ( 2nd September).

The site does “not currently use FRT”, and said data processed via the system was deleted in March 2018.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched an investigation into the use of the technology in the King’s Cross Central area after it was first reported by the Financial Times in August.

KCCLP said yesterday the system was never used for marketing or commercial purposes but to help the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police to “prevent and detect crime in the neighbourhood” and “ensure public safety”.

However, British Transport Police told Research Live it had “not contributed, nor benefited” from any use of the tech in the King’s Cross estate. Met Police did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication. Both forces reportedly told the BBC they were unaware of police involvement.

Since March 2018, KCCLP has undertaken work on the “potential introduction of new FRT” but this has stopped. It said it is co-operating with the ICO.

The developer said: “We note the broad debate now underway about the use of FRT and how to balance and combine keeping people safe and protecting their privacy, and the prospect of legal and regulatory developments in this area of emerging technology.”

There are “no plans to reintroduce any form of FRT at the King’s Cross Estate”, in the “meantime”, the company added.


An ICO spokesperson said: “Our enquiries into the use of facial recognition technology at King’s Cross are still ongoing. We have required information from the relevant organisations about how the technology is used, in addition to inspecting the systems on-site to assess whether or not they comply with data protection law. We will continue to monitor the matter closely.

“Any organisation wanting to use facial recognition technology must comply with data protection law. Where high-risk processing of personal data is anticipated, and those risks can’t be mitigated, organisations must carry out a detailed Data Protection Impact Assessment and consult with the ICO before they implement the technology.”