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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:

  1. using FRT for mass surveillance would violate the right to privacy and the protection of personal data;
  2. in some instances, use of FRT results in bias and discrimination;
  3. some countries use FRT to prevent public protests, thus restricting the right to freedom of expression and association;
  4. 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:

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 team: Dr Rita Matulionytė (Project Leader), Dr Monika Žalnieriūtė, Dr Agnė Limantė and Dr Eglė Kavoliūnaitė-Ragauskienė.

Duration of 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.



The research results were presented at scientific and public events and in various publications:


Events organized as a part of the project:

  • On 2022 September 15th International conference on Facial Recognition and the Modern State was held online. Conference was co-hosted by Lithuanian Centre for Social Research, Macquarie University, UNSW Allens Hub, ADM+S, London School of Economics, George Tech Internet Governance Project, Hamburg University ZeRdiT centre. There were 22 presentations by 26 speakers from Europe, US, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa.
  • On 2023 May 29th in collaboration with Lithuanian Police International conference will be held on Emerging Law Enforcement Technologies and Society.


The preliminary results of the project were presented at the following events:

  • M. Žalnieriutė (2022, June 16-17, Tallinn, Estonia), „Privacy and Facial Recognition Technologies”, Tallinn Conference on Privacy, Data Protection and New Technologies.
  • M. Žalnieriutė (2022 June 1-3, Rotterdam, The Netherlands) „The Rule of Law and Facial Recognition Technology”, 9th Biennial Surveillance & Society Conference of the Surveillance Studies Network.
  • R. Matulionytė (2022 May 19, Klaipėda, Lithuania / remote), „Face recognition technologies in law enforcement: ethical and legal issues", an invited presentation in a conference organized by Klaipėda police 'Practical aspects of video surveillance technologies in law enforcement'.
  • R. Matulionytė (2021 October 25-26., Australia / remote), „A Call for More Explainable AI in Law Enforcement”, presentation at the 1st International Workshop on AI-enabled Policing and Law Enforcement (IEEE EDOC 2021 conference).
  • R. Matulionytė (2022 April 17, Sydney, Australia /remote), panelist at Australia New Zealand Police Advisory Agency (ANZPAA) „Policing AI Forum“.
  • E. Kavoliūnaitė-Ragauskienė participated in the public consultations of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania, which examined aspects of the use of facial recognition technologies:
    • in 2022 April 12 in a public consultation on video surveillance.
    • in 2022 April 14 in the public consultation on the processing of biometric data.
    • in 2022 June 7 at the final event of the cycle of public consultations "Challenges of personal data protection in a changing world".
  • R. Matulionytė (2022 August 17, Sydney, Australia), Security consultants Insight Series Meet-up, contribution to the panel discussion on facial recognition technologies.
  • R. Matulionytė (2022 September 15, remote), „In Search of Transparent and Explainable FRT”, presentation in an international conference on Facial Recognition and the Modern State.
  • M. Žalnieriūtė (2022 September 15, remote), „Eroding Political Protests: FRT and Public Space Surveillance“, presentation in an international conference on Facial Recognition and the Modern State.
  • A. Limantė (2022 September 15, remote), „Faces of War: Russia's Invasion of Ukraine and Military Use of FRT“, presentation in an international conference on Facial Recognition and the Modern State.
  • E. Kavoliūnaitė-Ragauskienė (2022 September 15, remote), „FRT Regulation in Eastern Europe: A Case Study of Lithuania“, presentation in an international conference on Facial Recognition and the Modern State.