Photo: iStock/ sebastian-julian

Facing the Future: Protecting Human Rights in Policy Strategies for Facial Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement

– CITRIS and the Banatao Institute

A new report from CITRIS Policy Lab outlines examples of facial recognition use by law enforcement which create risks to privacy, equity, and due process, and how strategic policy design can mitigate these risks

Focusing on facial recognition technology (FRT) case studies from both the U.K. and U.S. – two countries who widely use the technology and are committed to upholding civil liberties – this report from CITRIS Policy Lab provides a framework to determine whether the correct safeguards are in place to protect human rights when using FRT.

The report introduces the framework which centres on three key dimensions: privacy, equity, and due process. Using case studies from the U.K. and the U.S., report author Henriette Ruhrmann demonstrates how the framework can be used and highlights that both the U.K. and the U.S. need to strengthen their approach to human rights protection around FRT, concluding: “even in mature democracies with a strong commitment to protecting civil liberties, establishing policy safeguards for the use of FRT in law enforcement in accordance with human rights remains challenging… Given the unique vulnerability of leveraging our face for establishing our identity, FRT creates specific risks to protected human rights.”

Ruhrmann also suggests that the study demonstrates the need for specific regulations around FRT. She says:

"Even in countries with a strong commitment to civil liberties, FRT-specific legislation is necessary to enforce human rights in the context of this emerging technology."

For a more detailed overview of the report and its conclusions, read Henriette Ruhrmann’s accompanying Viewpoint blog “Facing the Future”.