First Facial Recognition Framework Released for Engineers and Policy Makers to Build Transparency

Published
02 Mar 2020
2020
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  • Facial recognition has emerged as one of the most powerful biometric tools, but the lack of regulation and a misuse of the technology can put users at risk.
  • To combat these challenges, the World Economic Forum released a new framework for the safe and ethical use of facial recognition technology.
  • For the first time, engineering teams and policy makers can work off the same development guide, mitigating risks and creating a common approach, where no safeguards currently exist.
  • Read more here: https://www.weforum.org/projects/responsible-limits-on-facial-recognition-technology

Geneva, Switzerland, 2 March 2020 – While the market for facial recognition tools and services is expected to more than double in value to $7bn by 2024, there have been repeated calls by politicians and civil rights agencies safeguard against potential misuse of the technology. Biometric monitoring and susceptibility to unfair bias are primary concerns, along with the lack of industry standards that are a barrier to companies and governments deploying the technology’s potential benefits.

To help organizations tackle this challenge, the World Economic Forum released the first framework for the safe and trustworthy use of facial recognition technology. The Framework for Responsible Limits on Facial Recognition was built by the Forum, industry actors, policy makers, civil society representatives and academics. It is meant to be deployed and tested as a tool to mitigate risks from potential unethical practices of the technology.

“Although the progress in facial recognition technology has been considerable over the past few years, ethical concerns have surfaced regarding its limitations,” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the World Economic Forum. “Our ambition is to empower citizens and representatives as they navigate the different trade-offs they will face along the way.”

This is the first framework to go beyond general principles and to operationalize use cases for two distinct audiences: engineering teams and policy makers. Members of the working group have played two complementary roles:

The first are contributors: industry representatives (Groupe ADP, Amazon Web Services, IDEMIA, IN Groupe,Microsoft and SNCF,); policy makers (members of the French Parliament, OPECST,); academics; civil society organizations; and AFNOR Certification. The second are observers: the French Data Protection Authority (Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des libertés - CNIL) and the French Digital Council (Conseil National du Numérique).

“I support the idea of a bill at the French Parliament to enable this kind of experiment, which is essential to inform the public debate on facial recognition technology, said Didier Baichere, French MP. “More specifically, this bill aims to define the scope, objectives, stakeholders, and territories where such an experiment could be conducted as well as the requirements for an informed and inclusive public consultation to promote public knowledge of the opportunities and the limits of facial recognition technology.”

“Recent scientific progress, both in artificial intelligence and in computer vision more specifically, has enabled, in just a few years, a significant breakthrough in areas related to facial recognition,” said Jean-Luc Dugelay, computer vision researcher at EURECOM Sophia Antipolis. “For that reason, I believe that it is essential to accompany these advances in science with a global policy reflection on the appropriate use of this technology; through a multistakeholder collaboration that involves academics, engineers, technology providers, and users, policy-makers, lawyers and citizens.”

“The need for shared landmarks for artificial intelligence in general, and its application for facial recognition in particular is primordial.” Considers Olivier Peyrat, Chief Executive Officer of AFNOR group. “I consider positive all collective initiatives aimed at promoting transparency, the sharing of the same language, precise and unequivocal, as well as the definition of measures of confidence. The challenge is to create conditions accepted by public actors, private actors and citizens, to make possible the development and the implementation of these new technologies in a serene environment.”

This framework is structured around four steps:

  • Define what constitutes the responsible use of facial recognition through the drafting of a set of principles for action. These principles focus on privacy, bias mitigation, the proportional use of the technology, accountability, consent, right to accessibility, children’s rights and alternative options.
  • Design best practices, to support product teams in the development of systems that are “responsible by design”, focusing on four main dimensions: justify the use of facial recognition, design a data plan that matches end-user characteristics, mitigate the risks of biases, and inform end-users.
  • Assess to what extent the system designed is responsible, through an assessment questionnaire that describes what rules should be respected for each use case to comply with the principles for action
  • Validate compliance with the principle for action through the design of an audit framework by a trusted third party (AFNOR Certification for the policy pilot).

France joined the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in January 2019. The framework was co-designed by a fellow from the French government in residence at the Centre.

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