this is bbc news, the headlines. prime minister theresa may has called for a two—year transition period to ensure a smooth separation process between britain and the rest of the european union. she's promised to meet the uk's budget commitment. prominent figures elsewhere in the eu have praised her tone but asked for more detail. us officials say intense rain and flash floods have caused a dam to fail in puerto rico, causing an extremely dangerous situation. tens of thousands of people are being evacuated. hurricane maria brought torrential rain, swelling rivers to record levels, and knocking out power to the whole island. the ride—hailing app uber has lost its license to operate in the british capital. london's transport authorities questioned the firm's approach to driver background checks and the reporting criminal offences. the online minicab service has confirmed that it will appeal against the decision.
in around ten minutes you can see newswatch, but now on bbc news, it's time for click. facial recognition. tech that can identify someone from theirface is fast becoming a thing. this biometric id has been used together with passports at immigration control in airports. in dubai, they want to do this without the gates, allowing passengers to walk more easily through the airport. it is also finding its way into apps
as an alternative to passwords. face recognition could be coming to shops. in china, alibaba recently premiered their smile—to—pay system at kfc. unlike our passports and passwords, our faces are on public display pretty much all the time. that makes it possible for the authorities or anyone else to automatically identify us in any public space, something you may not be surprised to hear they are quite interested in doing. dan simmons has been looking at the preparations made by several governments. to start, you've been to germany? yes, it seems we could be moving towards a biometric cctv sort of state. one of the places where it is first happening, which may surprise you, is in berlin.
catching a train in the german capital means you might be caught on cctv, perhaps while stamping your ticket. neither system automatically tracks your movements, which at the least requires human intervention. but in the south of the city, your face will be scanned and analysed by computers. the testing of facial recognition began here last month. the authorities are not looking for criminals just yet. they aren't really looking for me, either. around 200 volunteers have had their faces scanned and been given a location tracker so the authorities know when they pass through here, and they can see how often the cameras can pick them up, just by looking at their faces. if the system's accurate enough, then it will be used much more widely, which for many, would be a breach of privacy. being constantly monitored
with no easy opt out. the germans have a history of being watched. this old listening station in berlin was how the west kept tabs on east germany. on the ground below, first the nazis and then the stasi kept files on the population. since the fall of the berlin wall in 1989 and the decommissioning of id checkpoints, berliners have been fiercely protective of their privacy. what has changed is that a new threat has replaced the old. police controlled the crowds in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. a truck mowed down shoppers in berlin, 12 were killed and more than 50 injured. at this time, cctv is still not widely used in public. three months later, the government
passed new laws to extend their use and the face recognition pilot was given the go—ahead. despite the trial offering a route that passengers can take to avoid the cameras, the country's data comissioner and top lawyers have expressed concern about germany moving towards a surveillance state. no one is saying facial recognition couldn't help catch criminals, but the public doesn't seem to have been asked. asjeremy goes to the polls, one member of the coalition has in power told me he wasn't consulted about the trial and the technology has not been publicly debated in parliament. it does not bring more security. it is just collecting data, more and more. you don't know where this data may be used. they tried to give it to the people, but it doesn't solve the problems.
proponents of the scheme point to the dip in crime following the installation of cctv in 2011. we asked the german interior ministry and the police authority for an interview and to take a look at the technology, but both declined. so we askes some travellers. i don't trust the system. i don't trust this new development. like everybody should be tracked and scanned. they showed on television that if you have a cap on or sunglasses, it doesn't work any more, so maybe not so much, but if it catches one, we are very happy. it really shows that it will help. then i will be ok with it. in the hope that there is no misuse and no just collecting tracking data. if those worries are widespread,
it is not looking good. questions hang over whether the german police fabricated records on the man behind december‘s terror attack to make them look good. earlier this month, a report said 21 eu member states, including germany, are still unlawfully collecting and retaining personal data. who's watching the watchers? that may be the key question if the technology proves its worth. we are tracked by our phones every day anyway. what is the big concern around facial recognition? with phones, we can possibly turn them off or opt to carry a more basic model. we do have some choice. it tends to be companies that collect data. when the police or the state require that information, it is a case by case basis. the concern here is that
if we introduce facial recognition, there would be a very broad database, a searchable database to find out where each person was and with whom whenever they were in public. to be fair, it is just a trial. this has not been released yet? no, it is a trial, absolutely. just on 250 volunteers and in public where they are captured on camera. there is another capital city where this technology is already being used by the police to look for real suspects? yes, here in london, where the most recent trials took place last month. carnival time in notting hill. tens of thousands gathered and were monitored above, and by officers on the ground. there were facial recognition cameras, and unlike in berlin, the london trial is not visible to the public. the officers are using it
to spot real suspects. the metropolitan police declined to show us the technology us an interview, so we spoke to a human rights expert who was invited to witness what happened. in the ten minutes that i viewed facial recognition in action, i saw two misidentifications. both of them wrongly identified an innocent woman walking past as a wanted man from the police data base. right, they didn't even get the gender right. those of false positives, other police concerned about that? they won't worried about that, but they were running it for four days. they told us that they had made many false positives. she says officers told her they had made one correct match in the four days of use.
the people i met viewed this as a success. as long as they can prove that the software works, it can make a positive match, even if it is making a0 incorrect matches, then it works. that's not the scientific approach. there is no balance or proportionality, let alone the civil liberties issues. that is not a success to a new. that is not a success to our view. some will say that the technology needs to be tested in real—world circumstances and this is what the police are doing in this situation. they have to test it and it could be useful in future? we all have something to worry about when the police are using intrusive biometric surveillance powers, and that they are doing largely in secret. these kinds of surveillance tools present some really broad concerns and to simply say,
i have nothing to hide, therefore i have nothing to fear, is to unconditionally submit to powers of government that are unchecked. that is to say, whichever flavour of government comes in, would we be happy with biometric surveillance? i don't think we would. london's metropolitan police told us: they declined to comment on the effectiveness of the technology. that is slightly concerning, isn't it, especially if the software really is that inaccurate? we haven't had any kind of public debate about whether this technology should be used ?
no, not really. the police say there will be a public consultation. we asked them how long we would wait for that and they said it would happen in due course. we checked parliamentary records and although facial recognition has come up for debate within other bits of legislation around anti—terror laws, there has never been any specific debate around the use of facial recognition in public in the uk. the technology continues to advance and researchers are looking that is the end of the shout version of click, don't forget we live on bbc iplayer. see you soon.
hello, welcome to newswatch with me, samira ahmed. how does the bbc source and verify the flood of user generated content it gets after a terrorist attack or natural disaster? and when they are asking for silence to listen for survivors in the mexican quake, should a bbc reporter be speaking to camera? first, it has been another week when the government's approach to leaving the european union has dominated the news agenda, culminating in the prime minister's much anticipated speech in florence. this is probably the most divisive issue amongst newswatch viewers and divisive is also a word that has been used about borisjohnson‘s role in the brexit debate. that was a subject discussed by amber rudd on sunday's andrew marr show. you said very famously
at the time of the referendum that he was the life and soul of the party, but not a man you would want to drive you home at the end of the evening. what did you mean by that? what i meant by that is that i don't want him managing the brexit process. what we've got is theresa may managing that process. she is driving the car, to continue the allegory, and i'm going to make sure, as far as i am concerned and the rest of the cabinet are concerned, we help her do that. this is back—seat driving, in effect? you could call it back—seat driving, absolutely. and i'm very clear that the cabinet and the government supports theresa may, that there is a difficult moment to make sure that we get the best result for the united kingdom, but i am sure we can. so was that the home secretary publicly admonishing the foreign secretary, providing evidence of widening cabinet splits over brexit, as bbc news bulletins and website articles subsequently claimed ? not according to clive tong, who objected to what he called...