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Cops in 5 nations see a way to use facial recognition safely and effectively

WEF, UN framework updated
Cops in 5 nations see a way to use facial recognition safely and effectively

Privacy advocates willing to consider giving police facial recognition tools have said they would support it only if certain policies were in place. Policies like keeping algorithms under close human oversight.

It seems that a similar consensus formed among six law enforcement agencies around the world participating in a pilot deployment project.

Global development nonprofit the World Economic Forum, along with INTERPOL and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), published the first draft of a framework for fair and effective use of face biometrics in policing last year. Then they recruited the agencies to use facial recognition algorithms using those guides.

This month, the forum published an update to the frame work including the field work. (There are similar reports.)

Two of the six agencies are in France: the National Gendarmerie and the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police. The others were the Brazilian Federal Police, Netherlands Police, New Zealand Police and Swedish Police Authority.

The group felt it “essential” that officers operating the software as well as policymakers understand how it works and how it does not work. Members also recommended that all results from face recognition searchers be viewed by someone who is trained specifically for the task.

And regardless of that review, the information should be treated as an investigatory lead for detectives, not as probable cause for arrest.

And if the feedback from the agencies is any gauge, facial recognition algorithms would, indeed, be used. The update report says criminals change their tactics and strategies rapidly and crime-fighting funding can be hard to secure.

“Many in the law enforcement community feel that (facial recognition) is not only an option, but a necessity,” according to the report.

Then, as if picking up the recommendation of algorithm skeptics, the report says more attention needs to be focused how to make use of the systems transparent and to communicate with communities.

And it tackles the gorilla in the room: real-time facial recognition.

The report indicates that this “presents unique challenges.” More guidance on how it is used, if it is used, is needed.

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