Publication date: 27 November 2019

Facial recognition technology: fundamental rights considerations in the context of law enforcement

Facial recognition technology (FRT) makes it possible to compare digital facial images to determine whether they are of the same person. Comparing footage obtained from video cameras (CCTV) with images in databases is referred to as ‘live facial recognition technology’. Examples of national law enforcement authorities in the EU using such technology are sparse – but several are testing its potential. This paper therefore looks at the fundamental rights implications of relying on live FRT, focusing on its use for law enforcement and border-management purposes.


Publication date: 21 November 2019

Facial recognition technology: fundamental rights considerations in the context of law enforcement (1007.17 KB)


To provide more context, the report also presents an overview of how these rules play out in practice according to the findings of existing National Preventive Mechanisms. The report should be used alongside FRA’s new online database of relevant jurisprudence and reports by competent monitoring bodies.

The focus of this report is on identifying shortcomings  – such as overcrowding or a  lack of protection against violence – that may be key to an accurate assessment of prison conditions. However, prison conditions that violate the standards of the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment are often not detected as a result of identifying shortcomings in relation to one particular aspect in isolation. Rather, such violations are more likely to be detected through an overall evaluation of a  multitude of aspects and circumstances.

The report is not intended to compare or rank Member States. Its aim is to assist judges and other legal practitioners involved in cross-border cases based on the EU’s mutual recognition instruments, such as the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). The report responds to the European Commission’s request inviting FRA to compile certain basic information on prison conditions and the monitoring mechanisms in place in Member States.

The publication contains the following sections:

  1. Cell space
  2. Hygiene and sanitary conditions
  3. Time spent outside cell and outdoors
  4. Access to healthcare
  5. Protection from inter-prisoner violence