Press release: Community needs to do more on ethical use of facial recognition

9 November 2020

At the Biometrics Institute’s facial recognition in focus session during its online Congress, delegates were asked if they thought the biometrics community had done enough to influence the message on the ethical use of facial recognition. Only 23% said yes.

In further polls of the near 250 attendees at the month-long event, 96% said standardised testing was important for the industry’s future.

In the final of the eight sessions of Congress, delegates revealed that despite the hit to the industry from COVID-19 outlined in the institute’s recent State of Biometrics Report, 92% still felt optimistic about biometric opportunities over the next 12 months.

Isabelle Moeller, chief executive of the Biometrics Institute said, ‘Through these important discussions, the task ahead is clear. We need to define what good looks like and be transparent about our processes. Transparency is the only way to build trust into the business of biometrics. This year’s Congress really was an A to Z of biometrics as well as thought-provoking, insightful and honest. No sooner did it close its virtual doors than we are making plans to continue the trusted and diverse conversations on the responsible and ethical use of biometrics to enable our members to better serve the people who rely on the decisions they make.’

Expert presenters included Wojciech Wiewiorowskithe European Data Protection Supervisor, Ken Gantt from the US Department of Homeland Security, Steven Wright from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, Patrick Grother and Mei Ngan from the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST), Michele Coninsx from the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED), Ed Santow – the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Lindsey Chiswick from the Metropolitan Police, Gracie Bradley from Liberty and Samuel Stuart from Mastercard.

The key themes that ran through all eight sessions of Congress were:

  • Technology is moving fast, policy and processes cannot keep up, nor do standards
  • The limitations of biometrics and how to address them
  • Testing is critical
  • Better education of the public and of decision-makers is essential
  • The need to build trust amongst the public and address the fear of surveillance
  • Trust is key and transparency is key to trust
  • The world of travel has changed and the implications of contactless, hygiene and masks have to be addressed
  • The importance of the human in the loop
  • The future is digital, but is convenience the key driving factor for biometrics in digital ID

Robert Mocny, former director of US-VISIT at the US Department of Homeland Security said, “The Biometrics Institute has once again delivered on its promise of providing a trusted and open platform for discussions of very diverse stakeholders on how to get biometrics right. Where else will you find a panel of opposing views discussing facial recognition questions in a constructive way with the aim of finding common ground?”

Members and non-members can get the as-live experience through the on-demand recording and access all eight sessions at their convenience.


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