We live in a corrupted system. The way to tackle corruption is to first acknowledge it exists. Only then is it possible to come up with ways of dealing with it, but don't make the mistake of believing the system can or will uncorrupt itself.

Facial Recognition Tech

The BBC posted an article 6 days ago titled “New police CCTV use rules criticised as bare bones” which is in reference to the police use of live facial recognition technology in public settings in England and Wales.

Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows how the Government operates, a former CCTV watchdog Tony Porter is quoted in the article to have said the new rules were “bare bones” and offered unclear guidance.

The BBC article looks to contain a link to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice on the Government website, but actually links to an “Open Consultation” that has come about in part because of a court case outcome in Wales, specifically the judgement in the Bridges v South Wales Police case. This was a case where a former Lib-Dem councillor Ed Bridges had been filmed twice by South Wales Police’s automatic facial-recognition van and won a case that judged it to be unlawful. Any justified concerns raised as part of this “Open Consultation” will be summarily dismissed by the Government because that’s what they always do.

The BBC are not really on the right side of this argument and you can tell this by the way their recent article is written. They do quote the lawyer that worked on behalf of Bridges in his case, Megan Goulding as having said:

One year since our case led the court to agree that this technology violates our rights and threatens our liberty, these guidelines fail to properly account for either the court’s findings or the dangers created by this dystopian surveillance tool. Facial recognition will not make us safer, it will turn public spaces into open-air prisons and entrench patterns of discrimination that already oppress entire communities.

Megan Goulding – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-58206586

She is right of course, but the BBC attempt to minimise this completely legitimate position by saying:

However the Ada Lovelace Institute told the BBC, the updated camera code, “provides important additional guidance around the use of biometric technologies such as LFR in surveillance cameras”. But it said, “far more still needs to be done to ensure that the rules concerning the use of a technology as powerful and controversial as live facial recognition are clear, comprehensive and provide adequate protections from potential harms”.

The phrasing here is quite subtle, but the initial word “However” is the kind of word you use to invalidate what was stated previously. Beginning a sentence with “However” is a grammatical way of introducing a contrast or contradiction to the previous sentence. This is not unbiased reporting by the BBC, as usual despite their claims to be unbiased and impartial.

What is the Ada Lovelace Institute? According to their website they are “An independent research institute and deliberative body with a mission to ensure data and AI work for people and society” and their mission is:

The mission of the Ada Lovelace Institute is to ensure that data and AI work for people and society. We believe that a world where data and AI work for people and society is a world in which the opportunities, benefits and privileges generated by data and AI are justly and equitably distributed and experienced.

We recognise the power asymmetries that exist in ethical and legal debates around the development of data-driven technologies, and will represent people in those conversations. We focus not on the types of technologies we want to build, but on the types of societies we want to build.

Through research, policy and practice, we aim to ensure that the transformative power of data and AI is used and harnessed in ways that maximise social wellbeing and put technology at the service of humanity.


Hmmm, the “types of societies we want to build”. The Ada Lovelace Institute according to their site “was established by the Nuffield Foundation in early 2018, in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute, the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Statistical Society, the Wellcome Trust, Luminate, techUK and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.”

The Wellcome Trust (a founding collaborator and funding source) needs an article devoted to it alone, and I will be publishing one soon, but just looking at the Nuffield Foundation is revealing. It claims to be “an independent Foundation with a mission to advance educational opportunity and social well-being”. The current “chair” of the Nuffield Foundation is Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE, FRS, FInstPhys, FLSW who’s profile describes him as an eminent Physicist. He took the position of “chair” at the Nuffield Foundation in 2018 and explains…

He has also worked extensively in China and is the Chair of the International Advisory Board of Tsinghua University’s Future Lab


Hmmm, “worked extensively in China”. His résumé is extensive, as are his establishment connections as his profile also says that he “is also a member of the Council of Science and Technology reporting to the Prime Minister, and served on the Council of the Royal Society and the Infrastructure Advisory Council which advised the Treasury on major infrastructure investment. His educational roles have included leading evaluations of scientific research funding, the review of A level qualifications and service on the Higher Education Funding Councils of both England and Wales.”

These are the organisations the BBC tries to present as the Authority on any kind of subject. Never mind the lawyer who managed to win the case against the South Wales Police for unlawful use of live face-recognition technology. No, listen to the Ada Lovelace Institute that was set up by establishment “fellows” that have extensive connections to China, report to the UK Prime Minister and advise Government departments, with the express intention of using technology to create “the types of societies” they want.

There are hundreds of these kinds of organisations that all lead back to the same kinds of people in Government or Governance, where they tell Governments what to do.