Private companies and public authorities worldwide increasingly use facial recognition technology. Several EU Member States are now considering, testing or planning to use it for law enforcement purposes as well. While this technology potentially supports fighting terrorism and solving crimes, it also affects people’s fundamental rights. A new Fundamental Rights Agency’s (FRA) paper looks at the fundamental rights implications of relying on live facial recognition technology, focusing on its use for law enforcement and border management purposes.
FRA’s paper ‘Facial recognition technology: fundamental rights considerations in the context of law enforcement’ outlines and analyses fundamental rights challenges that are triggered when public authorities deploy live facial recognition technology for law enforcement purposes.
It identifies key aspects to consider before deploying this technology in real life:
Facial recognition technology can be used in many different ways, such as verifying the identity of a person, checking whether a person is among a list of people, and even to categorise people according to different characteristics. Live facial recognition technology detects all faces on video footage and then compares the faces against watch lists – potentially used at public spaces.
Although the accuracy of these recognition technologies is improving, the risk of errors remains real – particularly for certain minority groups. Moreover, people whose images are captured and processed might not know this is happening – and so cannot challenge possible misuses.
Public authorities planning to use the technology in real life need to take these fundamental rights concerns seriously.