Institutional investors sign investor statement on facial recognition

Several institutional investors are among a group of 50 global investors, representing more than USD 4.5trn in assets under management, to have become signatories to the Investor Statement on Facial Recognition.

The initiative by Candriam was launched in March this year to address the risks raised by facial recognition technology (FRT) products and services. Welcomed by the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, the initiative invited investors to sign the Investor Statement on Facial Recognition and join Candriam in its engagement with companies on their FRT activities and human rights policies.

Over the coming months, the investor statement will form the basis of a dialogue with companies as part of an informed and constructive collaborative engagement programme. Candriam explained that FRT technology in its present form risks infringing on individual privacy rights given it lacks the consent of those being identified and has no official oversight. Misidentification is far more frequent than one might expect, occurs more systematically among certain ethnic groups and has led to false arrests.

Although there is no common global framwork around the regulation of biometric data collection and its use, several US cities and states have banned the use of FRT. In Europe, the EU Commission is proposing the first ever legal framework on Artificial Intelligence Regulation[2] and China recently published a draft standard on Security Requirements of Facial Recognition Data[3].

Despite the fact that the facial recognition market is a relatively small part of the technology market, US and China technology giants have developed their own facial recognition products and services. After mastering the collection and analysis of their users’ online behavioural data, these companies are now moving into the physical world. For those companies, their governmental or business clients, it is important to make sure FRT development and use is done in an ethical way, with the right regulation and oversight.

Among the signatories are KLP, RPMI Railpen, Church of England Pensions Board and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum.

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