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  1. ITV Report

Fans stage protest against use of facial recognition technology ahead of Cardiff v Swansea match

Fans and campaign groups protested before the match Credit: ITV Wales

Football fans and human rights groups have taken part in a protest against the use of facial recognition technology in Cardiff during the South Wales derby.

South Wales Police faced criticism over a decision to use the technology with fans and rights campaigners saying it is, ''a step too far.''

Police used the surveillance technology last October at another match between the two sides, attracting protests from fans.

Some of the protesters gathered wore masks Credit: ITV Wales

''I think we're all being treated as criminals,'' one masked protester said.

Campaign group Big Brother Watch described the surveillance technology as ''a waste of public money.''

Police repeatedly targeting football fans with this new and dangerous mass surveillance tool treats them like suspects, erodes public freedoms and wastes public money. South Wales Police are acting like big brother and seem tone deaf to public concerns.

We will keep fighting facial recognition surveillance until it’s use is ended. It’s one of the most extreme surveillance technologies in the world and has no place in Britain. Government should urgently issue a ban on police and private companies monitoring the public with this authoritarian surveillance technology.”

– Big Brother Watch
The technology was described as a ''waste of public money.'' Credit: ITV Wales

South Wales Police defended their use of the technology, saying it is being used to keep fans safe.

This is only the third time in more than two-and-a-half years that the technology has been utilised at a football match and is intended to prevent disorder that has in the past affected matches involving both clubs.

We are deploying Automated Facial Recognition to prevent offences by identifying individuals who are wanted for questioning for football-related offences or who have been convicted of football-related criminality and are now subject to football banning orders that preclude them from attending.

In line with our standard operating procedures, the data of all those captured by the technology on the day, but not on the watch list, will have their data instantaneously deleted.

Given the High Court's findings back in September 2019, and the conclusion that our use of facial recognition technology is legally justified and proportionate, we will continue to deploy the technology whilst continuing to demonstrate our commitment to the ethical and transparent use of Automated Facial Technology.

– South Wales Police