Home News Facial recognition code of practice is released

Facial recognition code of practice is released

by Andy Clutton

The first British Standard code of practice focusing on the ethical use and deployment of facial recognition technology (FRT), developed on recommendations by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), has been released by the British Standards Institute (BSI).

The code of practice, Facial recognition technology – Ethical use and deployment in video surveillance-based systems – Code of practice (BS 9347:2024) – has been developed by the BSI to allay concerns by helping organisations build public trust with its proliferation prompting concerns about safe and ethical use. The BSIA’s work began in 2020 with the setting up of a special interest group dedicated to the issue, publishing the ethical and legal guide on facial recognition.

The standard will now allow the legal and ethical usage of this technology advancement in improving the safety and security of people, property and places. Addressing the ethical challenges faced by those using the AI technology, its foundation is based on six overarching principles of ‘trustworthiness’, namely governance and accountability, human agency and oversight, privacy and data governance, technical robustness and safety, transparency and explainability, diversity, non-discrimination, and fairness. The origin of the principles of trustworthiness come from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), EU, and alignment with UK AI Regulatory principles.

The standard is applicable to the whole supply chain, beginning with an assessment to determine the need to use FRT, to its procurement, installation, and appropriate and continued use of the technology.

To avoid confusion, the standard also provides a clear delineation between the types of FRT deployment. Those being its use for identification (who is it?) purposes where a ‘human-in-the-loop’ is necessary, and for Verification (is it you?) purposes where human intervention is not needed.

Pauline Norstrom, CEO, Anekanta Consulting and Anekanta AI, also Chair of the BSIA’s AI & Biometrics Special Interest Group, said: “The release of the FRT code of practice is a significant moment in the journey towards the ethical use of this AI biometric technology in the United Kingdom. It is different to other standards for AI and biometrics, as a non-technical code of practice that operationalises the principles for trustworthy AI (ethical AI) through the entire value chain making it easy for industry to implement transparently with clear governance and accountability, and arguably with potentially lower impacts, risks and costs. Crucially, the standard contains a metaphorical ‘stop button’ to cease use if impacts cannot be mitigated. It also frames FRT as an AI technology which aligns with the definition of AI in international standards and new or pending regulation.”

Dave Wilkinson, Director of Technical Services, BSIA, said: “The use of FRT has not come without its own challenges, whether that has been down to the accuracy of the technology, or how and where it is deployed. Many relevant questions have been asked by privacy groups, industry stakeholders and other interested parties on the appropriate and proportionate use of such technology; this code of practice aims to instil trustworthiness in the use of FRT by setting out key principles covering the whole process from assessing the need to use it, to ensuring its continued operation remains fit for purpose and justified.”

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