Police forces in England and Wales have up to 18 million "mugshots" on a facial recognition database, including many who have never been charged or have been cleared of any offences. This has important implications for privacy and civil liberties.
In 2012 despite a ruling of the UK High Court warning police forces to revise their policies in "months, not years", no action seems to have been taken because the law in this field remains uncertain. Therefore, it is not illegal at present for police forces to retain their data bases of downloaded images. It is likely that there will be a public debate on possible legislation against the need for national security.
And as facial recognition becomes more present in everyday life, we are going to need new regulations protecting the anonymity of our faces, just as we are protecting our cellphones and, hopefully, the metadata therein. If we don't, we will lose our ability to be anonymous – and even when we're talking about identifying sex offenders, retaining some measure of anonymity is important. Would you really want to cast a controversial vote or publicly protest in a world where your peers or the cops could track down your cheekbone pattern in seconds?