Gartner has released a set of guidelines for organizations that are considering the use of facial recognition. The organization notes that the use of facial recognition is still largely unregulated, insofar as there are no uniformly recognized laws at the national and international level.
As a result, public and private organizations are left to navigate the emerging facial recognition landscape on their own. However, Gartner identified some generally agreed-upon ethical best practices that can inform the development and deployment of facial recognition projects.
Most notably, Gartner argues that any facial recognition system needs to be accurate, and that it should be a proportionate solution to the problem. With regards to the former, the organization called particular attention to issues of bias, warning that some algorithms do not perform as well when asked to identify people of certain races or genders. Organizations need to take those shortcomings into account, and create clear countermeasures to mitigate the negative effects of bias and false positives.
Proportionate, meanwhile, suggests that organizations should not use invasive technologies like facial recognition if a less invasive solution will suffice. For example, a retail outlet should not deploy a facial recognition camera if a standard video camera is enough to prevent shoplifting.
Organizations that do decide to move forward with facial recognition should be very deliberate about how they plan to store and process the biometric data they collect. If facial recognition is being used for authentication, it should only be used for authentication, and not for other business purposes that users are not aware of and did not agree to. In that regard, Gartner urges organizations to prioritize the privacy rights of individual civilians.
“There is a strong negative sentiment against the use of face recognition technology,” said Gartner Distinguished VP Analyst Frank Buytendijk. “It is being seen as an invasion of privacy and a step toward mass surveillance.”
Gartner is not the first organization to emphasize the need for ethical considerations in the use of facial recognition. The Biometrics Institute recently published Three Laws of Biometrics, which build on its own ethical principles and Good Practice Framework. Yoti has also praised the British government for taking a privacy-first approach to digital identity.
November 30, 2020 – by Eric Weiss