Responsible Limits on Facial Recognition Technology

The Challenge

The adoption of facial recognition has increased dramatically over the past few years, fueled by the rapid improvement of this technology. While accuracy scores now exceed 95 percent, serious concerns remain about its potential use for mass surveillance and susceptibility to unfair bias.  

Public and private organizations around the world are currently grappling with this challenge and exploring various policy responses.  

To help these organizations tackle this challenge, the World Economic Forum has worked with industry actors, policymakers, civil society representatives and academics to develop a governance framework to ensure safe and trustworthy use of facial recognition technology. 

The Opportunity

This project convenes various stakeholders from all sectors of society to co-design a framework structured around four steps:  


  • Define what constitutes the responsible use of facial recognition through the drafting of a set of principles for action. 

  • Design best practices, to support product teams in the development of systems “responsible by design”. 

  • Assess to what extent the system designed is responsible, through an assessment questionnaire that describes for each use case what rules should be respected 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. 

This framework is then applied to various use cases (e.g. face access, safety and security of public spaces, marketing and customer services, healthcare services) across jurisdictions. 

The Impact

Co-designing an actionable governance framework in 12 months to ensure the trustworthy and safe use of the technology through a multistakeholder approach and agile governance principles.  

Our method enables Governments to protect citizens from various harms potentially caused by facial recognition technology while supporting beneficial applications.  

Industry actors that comply with our governance framework would demonstrate that they have implemented processes to ensure the responsible use of facial recognition technology. 

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum projects may be republished in accordance with our Terms of Use.