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Welsh police to scan faces of every Champions League final attendee

If you’re traveling to Cardiff for the Champions League final on June 3, there’s a good chance your face will be scanned by the South Wales Police as part of a huge security trial.

In a move that’s bound to raise privacy fears, the SWP will use automated facial recognition (AFR) technology to process images taken at the train station and around the city.

Fans mugs will be compared them with custody photos of half a million “persons of interest” in real time.

If there’s a match with a suspected troublemaker or terrorist threat, one can assume efforts will be made to prevent that person entering the stadium.

A Motherboard report brings to light a government tender outlining the force’s plans to bring mass surveillance to the biggest event in the European football calendar.

The government’s surveillance camera commissioner Tony Porter told the site SWP must abide by the AFR standards during the trial and pointed out effective uses of the tech don’t come easily.

He said: “I have seen the use of AFR increase [over] the past few years and a recent report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology indicated that facial recognition is a difficult challenge.

“Getting the best, most accurate results for each intended application requires good algorithms, a dedicated design effort, a multidisciplinary team of experts, limited-size image databases, and field tests to properly calibrate and optimize the technology.”

Although it has been planned for some time, news of the operation comes just a couple of weeks after the attack on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus ahead of a Champions League quarter-final.

The Paris attackers of November 2015 also sought to gain entry to the Stade de France prior to a friendly between France and Germany.

While prudence is, of course, essential, we thought the days of treating every football fan like a criminal were over. Apparently not.


How much privacy are you willing to sacrifice in order to feel safe at games? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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