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MSc Thesis VU - Facial recognition technology in public spaces

The technical, legal and ethical aspects concerning the implementation of facial recognition technology in public spaces and the potential trade-off between public security and the privacy of individual citizens

Municipalities have two tasks which might increasingly be in conflict due to the introduction of facial recognition technology. At the one hand municipalities should ensure public security and at the other hand municipalities should protect the privacy of individual citizens (Rathenau, 2017). Consequently, the research question is: How could municipalities implement facial recognition systems in in public spaces and consequently cope with the tension between ensuring public security and protecting the privacy of individual citizens? This research shows that technical capabilities, with a focus on privacy by design exist. However, since facial recognition technology is not yet perfect, there will always be a violation of privacy; which is mainly due to the existence of false positives. The trade-off between public security and the privacy of individual citizens will not be as straightforward as expected due to the existence of both false negatives and false positives. There might be situations in which municipalities could justifiably invoke one of the legal exceptions of art. 9(2) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or art. 29 GDPR Implementation Act (GDPR IA) in regard to processing biometric data. However, this research revealed that this will be difficult for municipalities. Additionally, ethical principles should be taken into account since municipalities (should) strive to become responsible digital cities and implementing facial recognition technology might compromise existing ethical principles. Concluding, currently the advice to municipalities is not to implement facial recognition technology in public spaces.

Bron: ten Cate, A. 2019. Facial recognition technology in public spaces: The technical, legal and ethical aspects concerning the implementation of facial recognition technology in public spaces and the potential trade-off between public security and the privacy of individual citizens. Universiteit van Amsterdam, Gemeente Amsterdam

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