Live facial recognition technology – friend or foe?

Live facial recognition technology offers many benefits, but concerns still abound regarding privacy and data protection. We ask whether the benefits outweigh the risks, and how public trust in the technology could grow.

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The use of facial recognition technology in public spaces has been an area of contention for quite some time. The issue reared its head most recently when the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raised privacy concerns related to the use of live facial recognition (LFR) technology in such areas.

Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham published a ‘Commissioner’s Opinion’ article which brought to light that of the six LFR systems investigated by ICO none had been fully compliant with data protection law when they went live.

Denham wrote that trust in LFR technology is low, using the piece to highlight the need for data protection and privacy to be at the heart of any decisions to deploy LFR technology.

When is it right to use live facial recognition tech?

LFR technology is still in its infancy and, like most infants, is clearly proving itself to be challenging and disruptive. However, it has an opportunity to be a force for good if it's used correctly, gains public trust, and meets necessary societal, legal and regulatory requirements.

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