UK may use facial recognition smartwatches to monitor migrant criminals

The UK government may soon start using smartwatches to monitor migrants who have been convicted of crimes. The offenders would need to scan their faces up to five times per day, according to . The measures may come into effect as soon as this fall.

Those subject to the conditions would need to take photos of themselves throughout the day and have their locations tracked around the clock, according to documents obtained by The Guardian. The photos will be compared with ones the Home Office has on file. If the government’s systems can’t verify the person’s identity, a manual check would be required. The photos — along with migrants names, nationalities and dates of birth — will be stored for up to six years, under the Home Office and Ministry of Justice plans.

The rules will only apply to foreign nationals who have been convicted of crimes. The UK government reportedly won’t monitor others, such as asylum seekers, in this fashion.

In May, the government gave to a company called Buddi Limited to secure “non-fitted devices” to track “specific cohorts” under the Home Office’s Satellite Tracking Service. “A non-fitted device solution will provide a more proportionate way of monitoring specific cohorts over extended periods of time than fitted tags,” the contract reads. “These devices will utilize periodic biometric verification as an alternative to being fitted to an individual.” The number of Buddi will supply and the cost of each has been redacted.

The Home Office hasn’t explicitly said it will use smartwatches with facial recognition functions to track convicted migrants. A spokesperson told The Guardian that the Home Office will soon implement a “portable biometrically accessed device” that will work alongside ankle tags.

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