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No live facial recognition for New Zealand Police in self-regulation pledge

No live facial recognition for New Zealand Police in self-regulation pledge

An independent review of the opportunities and risks associated with facial recognition commissioned by New Zealand Police has made a series of recommendations for limited use, with police committing to avoid deploying live face biometrics at least temporarily.

The national law enforcement agency is now implementing a ‘Response Plan’ based on the review’s 10 recommendations for facial recognition use. All 10 have been accepted, and some are already being integrated with police policies.

The self-regulatory steps are being taken in contrast with an international environment that includes proposals for sweeping centralized regulation and a jumble of stipulations from different levels of government.

The review was conducted by Dr. Nessa Lynch and Dr. Andrew Chen.

The 85-page report they produced examines the use of facial recognition by New Zealand law enforcement, issues associated with the technology in general and in the national context. It also considers how the technology is regulated in other countries, and provides in addition to the recommendations a set of considerations and a risk framework.

NZ Police Deputy Chief Executive Mark Evans said the force will not use live facial recognition “until the impact from a security, privacy, legal, and ethical perspective is fully understood.”

He also said the police Response Plan will ensure that any facial recognition use for identification will be made clear, and provide a best practice analysis of what the specific technology is and why it is being used.

The recommendations were to pause development of live facial recognition, review current image collection and retention policies, continue work on ethical commissioning of the technology, ensure governance and oversight of deployments, uphold commitments to the Māori, and deal with transparency, public spaces, access to third-party systems, a culture of ethical data use and monitoring of ongoing developments.

The Response Plan includes details on how the police use face biometrics for applications from secure access control to forensic identification, and a crowd analysis tool. It also sets out how the force intends to comply with each recommendation above.

“It is critical that we continue to use technology safely and responsibly, as accuracy and bias are key concerns for FRT (facial recognition technology). We are committing today to engaging with communities before we make any decisions on the use of Live FRT,” Evans says.

“This puts us in the best position to prepare for any considered future adoption of the technology.”

An audit last year found that New Zealand Police had been using more facial recognition tools than previously acknowledged.

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