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UK cops will deploy facial recognition scanners for soccer championship

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Olympics Day 5 - Men's Football - Great Britain v Uruguay Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

When soccer fans flock to Cardiff for the Champion’s League Final on June 3rd, British police will be greeting them with a new facial recognition system. Motherboard reports that the South Wales police will be conducting a live pilot test of the new system on the day of the game, to be deployed at Cardiff’s main train station as well as various areas surrounding Principality Stadium. As described in a public government tender, the system will scan for matches against 500,000 persons of interest already stored in a police database. The agency will pay 177,000 pounds for the pilot, or roughly $225,000.

The move comes amid a newfound push for facial recognition systems in the US, which has been met by significant criticism from privacy advocates. Customs and Border Protection is currently building a system that would use facial recognition to scan all US visa holders as they exit the country, a program that has been accelerated by President Trump. Critics worry the same systems could be integrated with law enforcement systems to turn airport visits into grounds for a law enforcement search.

A similar system is already in place for driver’s license photos. The FBI currently has access to more than 173 million driver’s license photographs, although very few of the subjects are suspected of a crime. The FBI has been criticized for failing to verify the accuracy of many of the photos included in the system, which critics say could lead to a suspect being falsely identified by a scan.