Published in News

UK facial recognition gamekeeper turns poacher

by on12 December 2023

Fraser Sampson resigns after controversial decision and joins “enemy”

The recently-departed watchdog in charge of monitoring technology in UK has joined the private firm he controversially approved.

Professor Fraser Sampson, former biometrics and surveillance camera commissioner, permitted Facewatch to roll out biometric surveillance cameras in high streets nationwide. The move created an outcry because he was supposed to protect the great unwashed from too much surveillance.

Sampson left his watchdog role on 31 October, with Companies House records showing he was registered as a company director at Facewatch the following day, 1 November.

Privacy campaigners claim this might mean he was negotiating his Facewatch contract while in post and have urged the advisory committee on business appointments to investigate if it may have "compromised his work in public office."

It is understood that the committee is currently considering the issue. Facewatch uses biometric cameras to check faces against a watch list and, despite widespread concern over the technology, has received backing from the Home Office and has already been introduced in hundreds of high-street shops and supermarkets.

Ironically before this controversy, Sampson was seen as “one of the good guys” making complaints about Britain becoming an “omni-surveillance” society with police forces in the “extraordinary” position of holding more than three million custody photographs of innocent people more than a decade after being told to destroy them.  He also waded into Chinese body cameras being used by British coppers.


Last modified on 12 December 2023
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Read more about: