Police publish results of an expert review of facial recognition technology in New Zealand

An independent expert review has provided the New Zealand Police with detailed advice on opportunities and risks associated with the use of facial recognition technology (FRT).

In response to the review, conducted by Dr Nessa Lynch and Dr Andrew Chen, the police have decided that they will not use live facial recognition technology without further analysis, taking into account legal, privacy and human rights concerns, with a particular focus on the New Zealand context.

The police are now embarking on a response plan based on the 10 recommendations of the review to ensure the safety of police personnel and communities.

FRT is defined as anything that uses an image of a person’s face to help identify that person. The scope of this technology is growing and ranges from a one-to-one comparison (i.e., the SmartGate system at the border), to live automated FRT, sophisticated camera software that can identify multiple people in large crowds.

As confirmed by the review, police do not currently use live facial recognition technology.

The Police Response Plan will adopt the following 10 recommendations of the review:

1. Continue to pause any live FRT development.

2. Review the collection and current retention of facial images.

3. Continue to strengthen the process for ethical commissioning of technology.

4. Ensure ongoing governance and oversight of deployment.

5. Maintain collaboration with the Māori.

6. Maintain transparency.

7. Develop a policy statement on FRT surveillance in public places.

8. Implement guidelines for access to third-party systems.

9. Create a culture of ethical use of data in the organisation.

10. Implement an ongoing horizon scanning system.


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