Police will get advice around the use of facial recognition technology from two leading researchers as the force continues to grapple with privacy, ethical, and human rights implications of the technology.
The announcement comes after it was revealed last September that police used an emerging facial recognition technology without proper authorisation.
Victoria University of Wellington’s Dr Nessa Lynch and Auckland University’s Dr Andrew Chen would explore what facial recognition technology meant for police, deputy chief executive of police insights and deployment, Mark Evans, said.
“Over the next six months Dr Lynch and Dr Chen will explore the current and possible future uses of facial recognition technology and what it means for policing in New Zealand communities,” he said.
“Facial recognition technology is a subject that draws strong interest, and sometimes distrust and controversy.
“Public interest, and police’s organisational understanding, will benefit from being informed by experts in the field, and research examining the issues with a New Zealand policing perspective.
Evans said embedded facial recognition capabilities across a range of technologies were becoming more common and the work undertaken by Chen and Lynch would include:
• defining facial recognition technology
• categorising the spectrum of use and its potential effect on individual and collective rights and interests
• exploring what police currently do in this space, and what planned and unused capability exists within the organisation
• providing insights and evidence into international practice and advantages for public safety and crime control, as well as Treaty of Waitangi, ethics, privacy and human rights implications
• producing advice and recommendations on the safe and appropriate use of facial recognition technology in New Zealand policing
Facial recognition technology had both benefits and risks for collective and individual rights and interests, Lynch and Chen said.
“The pace of technological change has outstripped law and regulation,” Lynch said.
We welcome the opportunity to provide independent advice to assist New Zealand Police to develop and strengthen their policies for legal and ethical use of this technology.
"We are interested in digging deeper to find out how Police are using facial recognition technologies today, and how they can consider the use of new tools in the future.”
Chen said they hoped to find a way forward where both public safety and privacy are supported.