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Reports Year : 2022

Facial recognition for authorisation purposes (part 3)


Part 1 of our “MAPping the use of Facial Recognition in public spaces in Europe” (MAPFRE) project reports explained in detail what “facial recognition” means, addressed the issues surrounding definitions, presented the political landscape and set out the exact material and geographical scope of the study. Part 2 of our Reports presented, in the most accessible way possible, how facial recognition works and produced a “Classification Table” with illustrations, explanations and examples, detailing the uses of facial recognition/analysis in public spaces, in order to help avoid conflating the diverse ways in which facial recognition is used and to bring nuance and precision to the public debate. This 3rd Report focuses on what is, undoubtedly, the most widespread way in which Facial Recognition Technologies (FRT) are used in public (and private) spaces: Facial Recognition for authorisation purposes. Facial recognition is often used to authorise access to a space (e.g. access control) or to a service (e.g. to make a payment). Depending on the situation, both verification and identi fication functionalities (terms that are explained in our 2nd Report) can be used. Millions of people use FRT to unlock their phones every day. Private entities (such as banks) or public authorities (such as the French government in terms of the now abandoned ALICEM pro ject) increasingly envisage using FRT as a means of providing strong authentication in or der to control access to private or public online services, such as e-banking, or administra tive websites that concern income, health or other personal matters. FRT is increasingly being considered as a means of improving security when controlling and managing access to private areas (building entrances, goods warehouses, etc.). In public spaces, FRT is being used as an authentication tool for automated international border controls (for example at airports) or to manage access in places as diverse as airports, stadiums or schools. Pre Covid-19, there were a lot of projects to use in the future FRT in order to “accelerate people flows”, “improve the customer experience”, “speed up opera tions” and “reduce queuing time” for users of different services (e.g. passengers boarding a plane or shopping) but the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has further boosted calls for investment in FRTs in order to provide contactless services and reduce the risk of contam ination. Supermarkets, such as Carrefour, which was involved in a pilot project in Romania, or transport utilities in “smart cities”, such as the EMT bus network in Madrid, which teamed with Mastercard to conduct a pilot project that enables users to pay on EMT buses using FRT, have implemented facial recognition payment systems that permit consumers to complete transactions by simply having their faces scanned. In Europe, similar pilot pro jects are currently being tested enabling the management of payments in restaurants, cafés and shops. Despite this widespread existing use or projected use of FRT for authorisation purposes we are not aware of any detailed study that is focusing on this specific issue. We hope that the present analytic study will help fill this gap by focusing on the specific issue of the use of FRT for authorisation purposes in public spaces in Europe. We have examined in detail seven “emblematic” cases of FRT being used for authorisation purposes in public spaces in Europe. We have reviewed the documents disseminated by data controllers concerning all of these cases (and several others). We have sought out the reactions of civil society and other actors. We have dived into EU and Member State laws. We have analysed a number of Data Protection Authority (DPA) opinions. We have iden tified Court decisions of relevance to this matter.
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hal-03956166 , version 1 (25-01-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-03956166 , version 1


Theodore Christakis, Karine Bannelier-Christakis, Claude Castelluccia, Daniel Le Métayer. Facial recognition for authorisation purposes (part 3). Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA). 2022. ⟨hal-03956166⟩
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