London Mayor Sadiq Khan to face legal challenges over traffic camera data access
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London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to permit a wider access to number plate recognition cameras to the Metropolitan Police in the capital city has landed him in legal trouble.
In 2014, former Mayor of London Boris Johnson granted the police access only to ‘reads’ (number plate identifications) from Automated Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and the geographical accessibility was limited to central London.
However, Khan has given the police access to cameras monitoring the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), resulting in collection of more data from a wider range of cameras, and the area is extended to the whole of inner London.
Members of the Independent Advisory Group on ANPR have called the plans a “gargantuan increase of surveillance in London” and warned they may have “a disproportionate effect on ethnic minorities communities due to placement of the cameras”, The Guardian reports.
The Met Police argued that more data access will allow them to protect the public and avoid errors in identifying vehicles.
But, according to The Guardian, campaigners say that the Met will be given access to photographs of roads showing the colour and make of vehicles, and potentially images of the faces of drivers and people walking on the pavement.
They say that the decision to extend the Met’s powers was illegal because it was granted without proper consultation.
Berry, who is leading the legal challenge with the digital rights organisation Open Rights Group, urged the mayor to reverse his “hasty decision”.
“I am deeply disappointed that the mayor has not listened to repeated warnings that sharing the cameras from the expanded clean air zone with the police was a huge increase in surveillance of Londoners that should not be signed off by his office,” she said.
“I have been telling the mayor since 2019 that sharing this data with the police is wrong and that Londoners must have their say in any decision. With so many awful revelations bringing trust and confidence in our police to an all-time low, Londoners should have been asked if they would trust them with this massive database about their daily movements.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said they would respond to the letter in due course, adding, “Modern technology has a vital role to play in protecting Londoners and tackling serious crime. The use of traffic cameras for ANPR has been in place since 2015 after being introduced by the previous mayor.” Campaigners are crowdfunding £30,000 to pay the legal fee and challenge the decision made by Khan and have sent a letter to him about taking action as well.