Those worried about the use of facial recognition by law enforcement have warned about how the technology could become entrenched in bureaucracies, growing in use and getting harder to question from outside governments.
A trio of recent reports, from Germany, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom seem to bear that out.
In Germany, a civil rights activist, Matthias Monroy, writing in his own blog, says a facial recognition system used to identify unknown people has grown “dramatically” from 2021 to 2022.
The database reportedly belongs to Germany’s federal police. According to Monroy, it was searched about 7,700 in 2022, compared to 6,100 times in 2021.
About 2,800 people were identified using the police’s algorithm last year, compared to 1,300 in 2021.
The advocate says that the Federal Ministry offered the information after being asked by a party in parliament. He also said that, according to the ministry, the same data has not been received from German states.
The images are gathered from CCTV cameras and from phones used by police to record the faces of suspects of crimes. Asylum seekers are in the same database.
Reportedly, the number of facial images in the police database grew by about 1.5 million last year compared to the previous year primarily because only 400,000 images were deleted.
If German police are starting to hold on to photos longer, they might be in good company.
Trade publication ComputerWeekly is reporting that some in the UK feel the government is adopting a biometrics “culture of retention.”