GOVERNMENT USE OF FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGIES: LEGAL CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS (Face-AI)
The team of researchers of the Law Institute of the Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences is implementing the research “Government Use of Facial Recognition Technologies: Legal Challenges and Solutions” (Face-AI), funded by the Research Council of Lithuania under the activity “Researcher Group Projects”. The project aims to identify and assess the legal risks posed by the facial recognition technologies (FRT) in the Lithuanian public sector and propose solutions to them through legal and policy-making tools. Globally-recognised foreign partners support it: Internet Governance Project research group at the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GiorgiaTech) (director prof Milton Mueller, USA) and The Law, Technology and Society group at the London School of Economics and Political Science (director prof Andrew Murray, UK).
An increasing number of public authorities worldwide (including Lithuania) use facial recognition technologies. Countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, China, and, more recently, Russia have been particularly active. They widely use these technologies in public spaces, claiming that the use of FRT is aimed at ensuring public security and preventing terrorism or other crimes. While the objectives of public security and crime prevention are legitimate, FRT also poses significant legal concerns:
- using FRT for mass surveillance would violate the right to privacy and the protection of personal data;
- in some instances, use of FRT results in bias and discrimination;
- some countries use FRT to prevent public protests, thus restricting the right to freedom of expression and association;
- similar to other artificial intelligence technologies, FRT lacks transparency and clarity, which may lead to wrong decisions or harm individuals.
The empirical study of the project will consist of four parts:
- a comparative analysis of the legislation of the selected jurisdictions related to the application of FRT;
- a detailed analysis of the theoretical and practical literature on FRT issues;
- semi-structured interviews with representatives of public authorities, non-governmental organizations, the academic sector and the technology business sector, working both in Lithuania and abroad;
- a comparative analysis of FRT application experience in Germany, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Russia.
The project will pay attention to the most critical legal challenges of the application of FRT in the public sector and make concrete proposals on suggested improvements and thus help address these challenges in Lithuania. The project will also significantly contribute to the ongoing scientific debate on face recognition in Europe and beyond by analysing the experiences of countries that have established clear restrictions on the use of FRT or, on the opposite, widely apply the FRT.
The project is led by a Lithuanian researcher Dr Rita Matulionytė, who has also been working at the Macquarie University (Australia) in recent years. She has been researching the legal implications of new information technologies for more than ten years. Recently, she has mainly focused on artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. Working along with her is Dr Monika Žalnieriūtė, who is currently an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) (Australia). The project research team also includes Dr Agnė Limantė, who actively conducts legal research in the fields of human rights, comparative law, private international law and Dr Eglė Kavoliūnaitė-Ragauskienė, who actively participates in research related to human rights, legal bases for ensuring public order, the right to privacy and other.
The project researchers are: Dr Rita Matulionytė (Project Leader), Dr Monika Žalnieriūtė, Dr Agnė Limantė and Dr Eglė Kavoliūnaitė-Ragauskienė.
The project will be implemented from 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2023.
The budget of the project is around 150 000 euros.
The project is funded by the Research Council of Lithuania (LMTLT), Contract No. S-MIP-21-38.