Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Britain's lawless police database the innocent

Back in 2012, the UK High Court ruled that the London Metropolitan police had breached the human rights and privacy of two people by retaining custody photos of them despite not charging them with any crime. The clear message from the court was that the police are not permitted to retain photographs or other records of innocent people. In a democratic state under the rule of law, you'd expect the police to obey the courts. But the UK is no longer such a state. And so now, they've uploaded the photos of hundreds of thousands of innocent people into their suspect facial recognition database:

Police forces in England and Wales have uploaded up to 18 million "mugshots" to a facial recognition database - despite a court ruling it could be unlawful.

They include photos of people never charged, or others cleared of an offence, and were uploaded without Home Office approval, Newsnight has learned.

Photos of "hundreds of thousands" of innocent people may be on the database, an independent commissioner said.

Not telling their oversight body - the Biometrics Commissioner - or the Home Office shows how lawless Britain's police have become. They no longer view themselves as subject to democratic oversight. Instead, they'll just do whatever they want, and screw the courts and their political masters. But a police force without the law is just a gang in uniform. And the UK government should treat it as such.

(This also shows how far the UK's creepy totalitarian surveillance state has advanced. Not content with listening to every phone call, spying on every email, and watching every car trip with ANPR, they now also want to use those cameras to track and identify individuals where-ever they go. This is lightyears beyond the Stasi, and it shrinks freedom along with privacy. The database state needs to be destroyed. But with an unfair political system which explicitly prevents the people from exercising democratic control, that simply does not look possible).