While UK citizens are no strangers to having their every move in public captured by the country's extensive network of CCTV cameras, new lip-reading technology will leave people "cupping their hands over their mouths" just to old a conversation in the street, according to the government's surveillance watchdog, Tony Porter.
Among the new technologies Mr Porter expressed concern about were lip-syncing programs that can decipher what people are saying at distance as well as gait-analysis software, which can identify an individual just by the manner of their walk. -The Telegraph
"The capability to run lip-sync technology to determine what people are saying would have a very suppressive effect. It would change the nature of our society," Porter told the Evening Standard. "People wouldn’t feel they could have a conversation outside. We increasingly see the football manager cupping his hand over his mouth to give instructions for fear of being exposed."
"Just extrapolate that by millions and what it would mean if people knew there was a capability of walking down the town and your lips moving could be picked up and extrapolated into a conversation," he added.
Porter's comments follow the launch of an official investigation into the use of facial recognition technology by the Metropolitan Police by Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham - who says her office is "deeply concerned" about the software.
Earlier this month, the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch also warned it had uncovered an “epidemic” of facial recognition technology being used around shopping centres, museums and conference venues in the UK.
The pressure group said it had found that millions of people were now having their facial features unknowingly scanned and stored in data bases.
Mr Porter conceded that such technologies could become an important tool for law enforcement.
However, he added: “It’s important to protect a free and open society and at the moment we are at risk of ceding that to the impact of technology.
"It’s the 70th year since George Orwell released 1984 and it’s relevant to say we’ve got to listen to those warnings and say we don’t want that society and what do we do about it," said Porter.