Campaigners have launched a legal challenge against London mayor Sadiq Khan over his decision to expand police access to data from traffic cameras.
Activists like Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry called the decision “terrifying”, saying it would increase Londoners’ surveillance and hit ethnic minorities the most.
“With human rights under threat from all sides, the Met police should not have access to a searchable database of millions of our movements,” Berry tweeted.
Members of the Independent Advisory Group on Automated Number-Plate Recognition deemed the mayor’s plans as “a gargantuan increase of surveillance in London.”
The remarks were echoed by Jim Killock – executive director of privacy group Open Rights Group – who said: “We believe that the use of these cameras, in particular by the police, should be subject to extremely rigorous oversight and deployed only after proper consultation and ongoing monitoring by stakeholders.”
Police forces were initially given limited access to data from the Automated Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) by Boris Johnson in 2014.
But the scope was expanded by Sadiq Khan in May to include the colour and make of the vehicles, images of drivers as well as pedestrians in inner London, an area of 3.8 million people.
If the plans were to go ahead, the Met would get access to all of Greater London by August 2023.
Commenting on the news, a spokesperson for the mayor said: “The use of traffic cameras for ANPR has been in place since 2015 after being introduced by the previous mayor.”
City A.M. has approached the Met for comment.