Sir: While the "facial mapping" system in Newham will undoubtedly have benefits for policing ("Hi-tech aid boosts spy cameras", 6 October), it underlines the urgent need for regulation of high-street CCTV systems. The identification of a person in a city centre at the touch of a button offers a unique form of surveillance. Although the new Data Protection Act covers the processing of CCTV image data, it is not designed to deal with such sophisticated data-matching.
With government moves to create near-national digital pictorial databases from the passport and new driving licence photographs, there is a real prospect that public and civic life will no longer carry an expectation of anonymity. As a recent House of Lords report highlighted, tighter controls on CCTV systems are required in order to strike a fair balance with civil liberties.
Director of Legal Policy