The ethical application of biometric facial recognition technology

Marcus Smith, Seumas Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


Biometric facial recognition is an artificial intelligence technology involving the automated comparison of facial features, used by law enforcement to identify unknown suspects from photographs and closed circuit television. Its capability is expanding rapidly in association with artificial intelligence and has great potential to solve crime. However, it also carries significant privacy and other ethical implications that require law and regulation. This article examines the rise of biometric facial recognition, current applications and legal developments, and conducts an ethical analysis of the issues that arise. Ethical principles are applied to mediate the potential conflicts in relation to this information technology that arise between security, on the one hand, and individual privacy and autonomy, and democratic accountability, on the other. These can be used to support appropriate law and regulation for the technology as it continues to develop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-175
Number of pages9
JournalAI and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


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