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UK Considering Face-Data Scheme for Pubs, Raising Privacy Fears

(by Robert Bateman | Digital Privacy News) – A government-sponsored plan in the U.K. could allow pubs and other venues to identify customers using facial-recognition technology — and some academics and advocates are worried about the implications for privacy and civil liberties.

The proposed scheme, which is being developed by British tech companies iProov and Mvine using a $103,000 government grant, has been touted as a means to ease COVID-19 restrictions without the use of so-called “vaccine passports.”

But iProov assured Digital Privacy News that subjects’ privacy would be protected. Still, the plans have drawn the ire of privacy advocates, who say it would violate individual privacy and other civil rights.

“There is no legitimate justification for including facial recognition or any other biometric applications in vaccine passport schemes,” said Ella Jakubowska, policy officer at European Digital Rights (EDRi), based in Brussels.

“This proposal would expand authoritarian, rights-violating biometric mass surveillance in ways that will harm individuals and society for years to come,” Jakubowska told Digital Privacy News.

CEO Responds

Andrew Bud, CEO of iProov, told Digital Privacy News: “iProov and Mvine have been working on a project to design and create a COVID-19 testing, recovery and vaccination credential (now termed as a ‘COVID status certificate’).

“Mvine received funding from Innovate UK to develop the technology and take it to trial,” Bud explained. “iProov and Mvine are currently trialing the solution in social care.

“This proposal would expand authoritarian, rights-violating biometric mass surveillance in ways that will harm individuals and society for years to come.”

Ella Jakubowska, European Digital Rights.

“Creating a COVID status credential scheme raises social, ethical and legal issues — and it is important that the government’s review takes full account of all of them,” he continued.

“It’s also important that any credential checks at venues should be inclusive, convenient, secure and respect people’s privacy to sustain public confidence.

“That is what the iProov/Mvine solution enables,” Bud said. Read Full Article >

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