Group advising UK government issues recommendations on public-private collaboration in using live facial recognition technology

The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group – an advisory non-departamental public body sponsored by the UK Home Office – has issued a briefing note on the ethical issues arising from public-private collaboration in the use of live facial recognition technology (LFR). The note focuses on the use of LFR in public-private collaborations in private-owned spaces where people are gathered or are passing through (.e.g shops, shopping centres, airports), and outlines a series of issues that should be addressed before such uses, including demonstrating that the collaboration is necessary and that the data sharing required in the collaboration is proportionate, and defining the types of data that are being shared in the collaboration. Noting that public-private collaborations in the use of biometric recognition technologies are likely to grow over the next few years, the group makes several recommendations regarding the use of LFR by the police or in public-private collaborations: (a) police should only share data with trustworthy organisations that have been vetted; (b) data should be shared with, or accessed by, the minimum number of people; (c) biometric data must be safely and securely stored; (d) watchlists should be narrow and targeted; (e) a publicly accessible record of collaborative use of LFR should be created; (f) collaborative uses of LFR should be authorised by a senior police officers; and (g) and independent ethics group should oversee the use of LFR by the police and in public-private collaborations.