British police to scan 480,000 Formula 1 fans’ faces at Silverstone

To help prevent criminal activity, Northamptonshire Police will use facial recognition technology at the F1 British Grand Prix, which is expected to attract about 480,000 people, the BBC reported.

The system works by comparing faces against biometrics held on a “watch list.” Signs and QR codes will indicate where live facial recognition cameras are being used.

This is the second time the controversial technology will be used despite the 2020 ruling by the Court of Appeal judges that a similar technology used by South Wales Police was unlawful. Liberty, the UK's largest civil liberties organization, calls the technology oppressive and thinks it has no place in a democracy.

However, the Police’s reasoning is to keep people safe.

“I absolutely get the concerns, we don't retain the data... it comes back to what is the primary aim of the operation. It's to keep the public safe,” Det Supt Richard Tompkins told the BBC.

According to Tomkins, there are “slim” chances of people being wrongly identified. Also, other manual checks, including fingerprints, will be in place.

Silverstone Formula 1 (F1) Practice sessions start on July 5th, followed by Qualifying the next day. The Grand Prix Race starts at 3 p.m. on July 7th.

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