End lawless and dangerous police use of facial recognition technology

by Ed Bridges

End lawless and dangerous police use of facial recognition technology

by Ed Bridges
Ed Bridges
I'm Ed. I'm a father of two, a football fan and a campaigner on human rights who has also opposed the Cardiff Arms Fair.
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Ed Bridges
I'm Ed. I'm a father of two, a football fan and a campaigner on human rights who has also opposed the Cardiff Arms Fair.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Oct. 19, 2018

My case is moving forward thanks to you

After a few months of putting together the best legal arguments possible, my solicitors at Liberty and I have now ‘issued’ the case at the High Court – meaning we have formally as...

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Donate now to challenge police’s lawless and dangerous use of facial recognition technology on our streets.

Police in my home city of Cardiff are using facial recognition technology to scan and store the faces of thousands of people as they go about their everyday lives.

They’ve been using this intrusive surveillance on shoppers, football fans and even peaceful protesters – without consulting the public or asking for their consent.

There’s no law adequately regulating police use of facial recognition. It’s highly inaccurate and often misidentifies female and non-white faces. And it violates our fundamental rights to privacy, free expression and protest. It needs to stop now. 

My name’s Ed Bridges and I live in Cardiff.

Since June 2015, my local police force – South Wales Police – have been using automated facial recognition technology in public spaces.

This technology scans people’s faces without their consent, making unique biometric maps which are matched against other facial images on special police databases and then stored. It isn’t clear where the images on those special databases come from – South Wales Police have said that they might even get them from social media. So anyone – you or me – could be on their database. And all of us have our faces scanned when the police go out with their high-tech vans.

The police are supposed to protect us and make us feel safe – but I think the technology is intimidating and intrusive. 

I believe South Wales Police have scanned my face twice. The cameras first caught me on Queen Street in Cardiff last December, when the city centre was packed with people doing their Christmas shopping. The force still hasn’t explained why they were using this technology on shoppers.

The second time was in March this year, when police rolled out facial recognition on crowds peacefully protesting against the Cardiff Arms Fair. The van was parked directly opposite this peaceful demonstration – seemingly aimed at discouraging us from lawfully exercising our right to protest.

Having police indiscriminately scanning us all as we go about our daily lives makes our privacy rights meaningless. 

The inevitable result is that people will change their behaviour and feel scared to protest or express themselves freely – in short, we’ll be less free.

There’s no law allowing facial recognition. Parliament hasn’t debated it. The public hasn’t been consulted.

There’s not even any guidance on how to deploy it, and no independent oversight to make sure its use is appropriate and our rights are protected.

It’s also dangerously inaccurate. On their own data, South Wales Police have used it at least 20 times – and 91 per cent of their ‘matches’ have been misidentifications. They’ve wrongly identified 2,451 people.

Who knows how many thousands of people have had their face mapped and image stored and don’t even know it? Who knows how many of us are now part of a police line-up that carries a huge risk of injustice?

The Metropolitan Police are also trialling the use of facial recognition in our public spaces, and Leicestershire Police have used it too.



Many more forces will follow suit unless we take a stand now.

Backed by human rights campaign organisation Liberty, I’ve written to the Chief Constable of South Wales Police to demand they stop using facial recognition technology in public spaces.

If they don’t, I intend to take them to court – but I need your help getting there.

This is policing without constraint, not policing by consent. Please donate to this important legal challenge and help stand up for our rights and those of generations to come.

Update 3

Ed Bridges

Oct. 19, 2018

My case is moving forward thanks to you

After a few months of putting together the best legal arguments possible, my solicitors at Liberty and I have now ‘issued’ the case at the High Court – meaning we have formally asked the Court for permission to bring this challenge. The Chief Constable of South Wales Police has already made clear that the force won’t try to prevent the case from going ahead, so we are very hopeful a hearing will be listed soon and it will all get going in early 2019.

We can’t thank everyone who has donated to this crucial challenge enough. We couldn’t have got this far without your generosity, and together we will end police use of privacy-abusing facial recognition technology in public places.

Update 2

Ed Bridges

June 20, 2018

Help me reach my new target

In the space of a week, I’ve met my £3,000 target! Thank you to everyone who has donated. The support has been incredible, but I now need to keep going and reach £5,000. The more we raise the better chance we have of defeating the police’s lawless use of facial recognition technology.

Update 1

Ed Bridges

June 20, 2018

Thank you for backing my case. Not far to go!

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to my case. The support has been brilliant! Please share this page to help me reach my £3,000 target.

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