Stephen Cragg QC and Adam Straw act for Big Brother Watch in challenge to Government and Met Police on “dangerously authoritarian” facial recognition cameras

Big Brother Watch has today launched a landmark legal challenge to the Metropolitan Police’s use of real-time facial recognition cameras.

Big Brother Watch has joined with parliamentarian Baroness Jenny Jones to urge Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to stop the police’s use of the “dangerously authoritarian” surveillance technology.

Stephen Cragg QC and Adam Straw, instructed by Rosa Curling at Leigh Day, solicitors, act for Big Brother Watch and Baroness Jones.

The Met has targeted Notting Hill Carnival twice as well as Remembrance Sunday with the China-style surveillance cameras, which Big Brother Watch describes as a “lawless growth of Orwellian surveillance”.

Police have been deploying facial recognition technology with secret watch lists containing not only people wanted for arrest but also protesters, football fans and innocent people with mental health problems.

Big Brother Watch recently took the results of its Freedom of Information campaign to Parliament, revealing that the Met’s facial recognition “matches” had wrongly identified innocent people 98% of the time.

This led to biometric photos of over 100 innocent people being stored on police databases, without their knowledge.

Despite attracting public controversy and a national campaign, the Met has vowed to increase its use of automated facial recognition with seven deployments planned for the next five months.

Big Brother Watch and Baroness Jones claim that police lack a legal basis to use the technology and that it breaches fundamental human rights protecting privacy and freedom of expression.

Baroness Jones has raised fears that even she could end up on a facial recognition watch list when conducting her parliamentary and political duties.

A photo of her was infamously held on the Met’s “domestic extremism” watch list and her political activities monitored while she sat on an official committee scrutinising the Met and stood to be London’s mayor.

Big Brother Watch and Baroness Jones have vowed to take the force to court with public support raised on the crowdfunding site Crowdjustice if the Met continues to use the surveillance tool.

Read the full press release here