The use of artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology of various kinds is increasingly being used as a weapon in the fight against coronavirus around the world. Recent examples include the facial recognition technology in Russia being used to enforce lockdown restrictions, while in France monitoring software has apparently been trialed with a view to using video surveillance cameras once lockdown has been moderated to determine whether citizens are adhering to social distancing rules and wearing masks.
In recent days it has been reported that various companies are in discussions with the UK government regarding the use of facial recognition technology in connection with the much discussed concept of so called “immunity passports”.
While potentially the use of digital ‘health certificates’ may be helpful in assisting the relaxation of lockdown restrictions and aiding economic recovery, this remains a contentious issue, both in terms of the assurances that can be provided in respect of the immunity of individuals and the additional privacy concerns that the use of facial recognition technology in this context could raise.
However, as long as the use of facial recognition technology is fair, lawful and transparent and the purposes for which it is used are limited these issues will not come to fruition. After all, such technology should involve the use of accurate personal data only; which is limited to the extent necessary for the purposes for which it is used and retained only for as long as is necessary for those purposes. In addition, all relevant data processed in connection with facial recognition technology should be kept appropriately secure, given the obvious risks to individuals if biometric data is compromised.
The use of facial recognition technology in the fight against Covid-19 is likely to be closely monitored by regulators. For example, in a recent blog, the UK Information Commissioner outlined how the priorities of the Information Commissioner’s Office have been reshaped for the months ahead in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Noting that, among other things, monitoring of intrusive and disruptive technology to ensure that privacy is protected while enabling innovation and supporting the economy will be an area of focus.
Clearly, the use of facial recognition and other biometric technologies in the battle against Covid-19 requires careful consideration by both the public and private sectors alike. Ultimately, however, increased surveillance may be regarded, at least to some extent for a limited period, as a sacrifice worth making if it offers a way out of the current global coronavirus crisis.
So, what are your thoughts on the possibility of using biometric technology to combat covid 19? Let us know, and also if you are interested in any biometric technology yourself make sure to get in touch with Computime Systems today at 0113 868 0124.