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Next Democratic Frontiers for Facial Recognition Technology

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The Legal, Ethical and Democratic Implications of FRT

Facial Recognition Technologies have gained significant traction in recent years, with a prominent debate arising regarding their impact on an ethical level. This conference aims to bring the lesser explored issues of FRT to the forefront in order to effectively outline risks and opportunities, to determine how these technologies can be used in the future.

Facial recognition technologies (FRT) are cutting edge AI systems that process biometric data for identification, verification and categorisation purposes. Although the research and development of these systems have made huge strides in the last decades, and computer scientists are following and supporting this evolution, it has been only a few years since legal scholars have been investigating the implications on fundamental rights. The enactment of new data protection regulations and the discussion of new proposals (esp. the AI Act) have turned the debate on its head, putting FRT in the spotlight. However, there are still aspects that have been little explored but will be crucial in the coming years for the democratic, social, technical, ethical, and legal acceptance of these technologies.

The conference aims to shed light on these unexplored aspects, which impinge on systematic legal issues concerning the regulation and the protection of rights and freedoms. To this end, the presented papers will deal with the different legal approaches on FRT that are arising at the global level. Related to this, specific attention will also be put to analyse how the distinction between the use of – and consequently the rules on – FRT by private and public entities is getting increasingly evanescent, as some of the most recent cases show. Other papers will dwell on some of the most challenging and controversial deployment of FRT, for specific purposes, such as emotion recognition; for advanced contexts, such as smart cities. Finally, the last works will focus on legal issues stemming from the most recent proposals at EU level, namely liability and cybersecurity.

The conference welcomes the participation of selected scholars of international prominence who have already been working on FRT, and therefore have the background to carry forward the investigation on these topics. This initiative is part of larger funded research projects. The conference is open to all, and will be of particular interest to academics, practitioners and policy makers generally interested n the compatibility of biometric technologies in general, and facial recognition in particular with democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law. It will be held in hybrid setup, with the option to follow online or in Villa Ruspoli. Please register by September 27th, 2023, if you would like to attend. For any queries you can reach out to frtflorence2023@gmail.com. The link to register is on the Università degli Studi di Firenze page and can be found here.

The event is co-organized by the STG’s Chair on Artificial Intelligence and Democracy with the Dipartimento di Scienze Giuridiche of the University of Florence and The Centre for Cyber Law & Policy (CCLP).

Next Democratic Frontiers Final Programme.pdf


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