The UK's first surveillance commissioner, Andrew Rennison, has issued a stark warning to the Government by saying that advances in CCTV technology risk turning Britain into a Big Brother society.
He warned of a 'public backlash' unless proper steps were taken to regulate the proliferation of 16-megapixel HD cameras with the potential to pick out a face and then match it against a database of images of wanted people.
‘The technology has overtaken our ability to regulate it,’ he told the Independent. ‘I'm convinced that if we don't regulate it properly - ie the technological ability to use millions of images we capture - there will be a huge public backlash. It is the Big Brother scenario playing out large. It's the ability to pick out your face in a crowd from a camera which is probably half a mile away.’
Research being carried out into automatic facial recognition technology by the Home Office has achieved a 90 per cent success rate and is still improving, Mr Rennison said.
'Proper regulation of CCTV needs someone to have the power to inspect cameras and punish those breaking the law.
A Home Office spokesperson said: 'Used properly, CCTV can be a valuable tool in the fight against crime. But for too long the system has grown and developed in the absence of any proper framework or oversight.