Dean Armstrong KC Advises Facewatch in Successful Personal Data Compliance by the ICO

Dean Armstrong KC has recently assisted Facewatch, a UK facial recognition technology company in securing a successful outcome in the company’s recent assessment by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Commissioned by ELIAS PARTNERSHIP, a data rights and governance advisory firm, Dean Armstrong KC provided critical advice which enabled the ICO to rule in favour of Facewatch.

The ICO investigation, which took four years, involved thorough scrutiny of Facewatch technology which is used by major retailers such as The Southern Co-op and Frasers Group. Anyone responsible for committing a crime is added to the system by stores. The logging of this information requires the store to sign a legal declaration before all matches are double checked by specialist analysts and sent as alerts. To protect the personal data of genuine store customers, the technology instantly discards biometric data from shoppers unless it is matched with ‘subjects of interest’ in its database. The investigation has resulted in Facewatch receiving a ‘most commendable’ rating by the UK Biometrics Commissioner, Professor Fraser Sampson, demonstrating the company’s commitment to the law surrounding personal data.

Facewatch Chairman Nick Fisher said: “I would like to thank Dean Armstrong KC for his exemplary representation in this matter. The decision by the ICO is a vote of confidence and underlines our commitment to best practice, both to prevent crime and protect staff and customers. The public and our subscribers can continue to have confidence in our systems and privacy safeguards.” 

Dean Armstrong KC comments, “Facewatch has been able to prove that by operating within the scope of personal data legislation, facial recognition technology can play a role in reducing crime. I am delighted with this outcome for Facewatch which has been satisfactorily demonstrated to comply with UK data protection law.”