UK organizations warned against live facial recognition
The UK Information Commissioner has warned against indiscriminate use of live facial recognition, saying it should only be used for very good reasons.
In a formal opinion, Elizabeth Denham says the use of live facial recognition (LFR) cannot be justified solely for reasons of efficiency or cost reduction.
âI am deeply concerned about the potential for inappropriate, excessive or even reckless use of live facial recognition technology. When sensitive personal data is collected on a large scale without people’s knowledge, without choice or control, the impacts can be important, âshe said. .
“We should be able to take our kids to a leisure complex, visit a shopping mall or visit a city to see the sights without our biometrics being collected and analyzed with every step we take.”
Unlike CCTV, she says, LFR can be used to instantly profile people – to serve personalized advertisements, for example – and could be used in combination with CCTV cameras or social media data to identify people in. other contexts.
So far, the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) has conducted six investigations into the intended or actual use of the LFR in public places. The uses ranged from solving public safety concerns to creating biometric profiles to target people with personalized ads.
And, says Denham, “It is telling that none of the organizations involved in our completed investigations were able to fully justify the treatment and, of those systems that were put into use, none were fully compliant with the requirements. of the data protection law. All organizations have chosen to stop, or not continue, the use of the LFR. ”
Live facial recognition faces challenges around the world. It has been banned in some US cities, and there have been a number of campaigns across Europe, including a call from the European Data Protection Supervisor for a partial ban on the technology in public places.
In the UK, live facial recognition is used by the Metropolitan Police – despite research by the Big Brother Watch campaign group revealing it to be highly inaccurate. Meanwhile, last summer the use of the LFR by South Wales Police was found to be illegal, as there was no clear indication of where it could be used and who could be monitored; the data protection impact assessment was deficient; and the force failed to take reasonable steps to establish whether the system was racial or gender biased.
âOrganizations will need to demonstrate high standards of governance and accountability from the start, including being able to justify that the use of the LFR is fair, necessary and proportionate in each specific context in which it is deployed. They have to demonstrate that less intrusive techniques won’t work, âsays Denham.
âOrganizations will also need to understand and assess the risks associated with the use of potentially intrusive technology and its impact on people’s privacy and lives. For example, how issues of accuracy and bias could lead to misidentification and the resulting damage or harm. “