February 24, 2020 / 1:21 PM / in 4 months

Britain's top cop calls for law on police use of AI

FILE PHOTO: Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, attends an event to mark the anniversary of the attack on London Bridge, in London, Britain, June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s most senior police officer on Monday called on the government to create a legal framework for police use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Speaking about live facial recognition, which police in London started using in January, London police chief Cressida Dick said that she welcomed the government’s 2019 manifesto pledge to create a legal framework for the police use of new technology like AI, biometrics and DNA.

“The best way to ensure that the police use new and emerging tech in a way that has the country’s support is for the government to bring in an enabling legislative framework that is debated through Parliament, consulted on in public and which will outline the boundaries for how the police should or should not use tech,” Dick said.

“Give us the law and we’ll work within it,” she added.

Dick rejected evidence that facial recognition algorithms are racially discriminatory in that their accuracy rates vary depending on the skin color of the person they detect.

“We know there are some cheap algorithms that do have ethnic bias but, as I’ve said, ours doesn’t and currently the only bias in it is that it shows it is slightly harder to identify a wanted woman than a wanted man,” she said.

The London police’s facial recognition technology is provided by NEC, a Japanese company.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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