Responsible Limits on Facial Recognition Technology

Creating actionable guidelines to address human rights concerns arising from the use of facial recognition technology

The challenge

The development of facial recognition technology (FRT) presents considerable opportunities for socially beneficial uses, mostly through enhanced authentication and identification processes, but it also creates unique challenges. To fully grasp these challenges and the trade-offs they may entail and to build appropriate governance processes, it is necessary to approach FRT deployment through specific use cases. To this end, the World Economic Forum has spearheaded a global and multistakeholder policy initiative to design robust governance frameworks tailored for various use cases.

The first workstream was launched in April 2019 and focused on flow management applications – replacing tickets with facial recognition to access physical premises or public transport, such as train platforms or airports. In 2020, a second workstream was started, with a focus on law enforcement – identifying a person by comparing a probe image to one or multiple reference databases to advance a police investigation. This initiative is run in partnership with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and Netherlands Police.

The opportunity

This project convenes various stakeholders from all sectors of society to co-design a framework structured around two core elements: 

• A set of principles for action that defines what constitutes the responsible use of facial recognition for a specific context.

• A compliance tool (e.g. self-assessment questionnaire, an audit framework) that details the requirements that law enforcement agencies must respect to ensure compliance with the principles for action.

This framework is then applied to various use cases (e.g. face access, law enforcement investigations, marketing and customer services, healthcare services) across jurisdictions.

How to engage

Pilot partner: Implement the governance frameworks in your organization, share feedback and contribute in an iterative process.

Project community: Nominate experts, policy-makers or senior executives who can help guide Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution projects by providing regular input as projects develop. 

Fellow: Nominate an individual from your organization to work full- or part-time at one of the Centres to play an integral role in shaping this initiative. 

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