Report: UK will use smartwatches to enable constant surveillance

The UK Home Office and Justice Department have reportedly found a new use for smartwatches: monitoring certain people by having them take pictures of their faces up to five times a day.

the guard reports(Opens in a new window) that “migrants convicted of a criminal offense” will submit to this smartwatch-based monitoring later this year.

The devices used as part of this monitoring program will be supplied by a company called Buddi Limited, which is website(Opens in a new window) that its “focus is on providing peace of mind by enabling people to live independently in their own homes for longer” thanks to its smartwatch-enabled service.

Buddi currently offers two devices: a wristband that “can automatically detect falls and has buttons that can be pressed when you need help” and a clip-on device that “has a built-in speaker and microphone that allows two-way communication when alerts are triggered.” are activated.”

The devices to be rolled out by the UK Home Office and Justice Department will also continuously track the locations of their carriers, according to the guardstating that the UK government expects to store information about the people it monitors for up to six years.

It’s not clear from the report whether the UK government expects Buddi to produce a smartwatch that can take photos or if the footage would be captured with a smartphone instead. Nor is it clear how exactly the government will determine who should be tracked with these devices.

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The UK Home Office reportedly said the trackers will be “for foreign offenders convicted of an offence, not other groups, such as asylum seekers.” But that may not be the case — intentionally or not — once the devices are officially deployed.

the guard reports that the UK government expects to spend around $7.2 million (£6 million) to launch this program, but “the number of devices to be produced and the cost of each smartwatch are set out in the contract”, ensuring the full scope of the program remains unknown.

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