The World Economic Forum (WEF) is trying to encourage the ethical use of facial recognition technology in the air travel industry. To that end, the organization has released a new actionable framework that lays out the steps airlines and facial recognition providers should take to facilitate safe travel while still respecting people’s privacy.
The framework has been titled “Responsible Limits on Facial Recognition, Use Case: Flow Management“. It notes that facial recognition has rapidly been gaining traction in the travel industry, partly because it speeds up processing times and partly because contactless screening is more hygienic than the traditional alternatives. In that regard, the WEF is the latest organization to suggest that facial recognition could help restore confidence in air travel after the pandemic.
However, the WEF also acknowledged that facial recognition raises a slew of privacy and bias concerns, and that calls for the regulation of the technology have increased in the past few years. The new framework is an attempt to balance those competing agendas by breaking governance down into two key components. The first is a self-assessment questionnaire that defines the ethical use of facial recognition and explains what organizations must do to live up to those responsibilities. The questionnaire is based on principles like privacy, accountability, and consent, and insists that any use of facial recognition should be proportional to the need.
The WEF then goes on to advocate for the creation of a third-party auditing framework to evaluate facial recognition systems. Oversight would be handled by independent certification bodies to make sure that organizations comply with the principles in the questionnaire.
NEC and Narita International Airport have already taken the WEF questionnaire in relation to their own face-based screening project, and shared their answers to encourage other companies to do the same. The WEF argues that airlines that want to enjoy the benefits of facial recognition will need to adhere to a uniform set of standards to earn the public’s trust and make people more comfortable with the technology.
December 18, 2020 – by Eric Weiss