LONDON — When Wales takes on Ireland in the Six Nations rugby championship Saturday, Big Brother will be watching. Fans filing into the stadium in Cardiff will be scanned with facial recognition software as part of a police trial of the technology. Should any of their faces match a database of potential suspects, officers will be standing by, ready to swoop. It’s the kind of indiscriminate mass surveillance that would be expected, in ordinary times, to be the subject of fierce debate in the U.K., as journalists and politicians fought over the proper balance between privacy and security. Instead, trial runs like the one in South Wales are taking place largely unchallenged by parliament. That, say civil liberty campaigners, is largely because of Brexit. Three years ago, the debate over the Investigatory Powers Act, nicknamed the “snoopers’ charter” — which gave security services powers to collect and store personal data for 12 months and track their use of the web, phones and social media — dominated the front pages of the national papers and was the subject of fierce debate in the U.K. parliament. The technology’s first deployment, during the UEFA Champions League Final in Wales, prompted 2,470 alerts. By… Read full this story
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