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    Increasing Use of Facial Recognition Technology

    University: Bloomsbury institute london

    • Unit No: 2
    • Level: Undergraduate/College
    • Pages: 9 / Words 2151
    • Paper Type: Assignment
    • Course Code: ITC506
    • Downloads: 364
    Question :

    Learning Outcomes

    1. Examine the ethical mechanisms and orientations employed within corporate and business decision making processes.
    2. Explain and critically analyse the significant ethical, sustainability and social impact focused issues confronting contemporary organisations.
    3. Develop solutions to broadly defined and complex ethical problems in the corporate and business environment base.
    4. Provide well-argued and researched solutions to deal with organisational challenges. (C2 & C5)
    5. Produce critical thinking skills through evaluation and synthesis of the academic contributions in the field. (C1).


    Facial Recognition Technology is used to find criminals and missing persons; research is held to underway the use of technology to tailor adverting messages to individuals and to validate purchases at point of sale. However, it has been termed as ‘arsenic in the water of democracy’ by the human rights group, Liberty (Sample, 2019) because of its threat to individual freedom.

    The Government’s Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG) produce a report on the recent field trials of the technology by two police forces which highlights that there were issues surrounding the accuracy of the technology and possible bias of output from the system as well as biased decision making based on this output (Hallowell, Amoore, Caney, & Waggett, 2019).

    There is a fierce ethical and legal debate covering the benefits, threats and use of the technology examined from above information. 

    Assessment Task

    Produce a report of 2,000-word on the ethical issues arising from the use of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) in the UK. This report should draw conclusions as to whether or not you believe the practice is ethical, based on the principles of Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Rawls’ Theory of Justice.


    1. Introduction (200 words)
    2. Main Body

    Present the use of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) in the UK: (600 words)

    Develop a detailed information of what Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) is, including its current and potential uses.

    Examine the use of the technology, presenting arguments from both sides of the debate.

    The ethics of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT):

    Explain Utilitarianism, Deontology and Rawls’ Theory of Justice, comparing and contrasting their principles in order to present your understanding. (400 words)

    1. Conclusion (200 words)
    2. References (Harvard style)
    Answer :


    Ethical issues is a situation where moral conflicts arises. It occurs when a decision creates conflicts with the moral principles and it involves both individuals and businesses. Introduction of the latest technology helps businesses in enhancing their business operation and achieving business goals. The advancement in technology is does not elicit but raises ethical and moral issues. The information technology, biotechnology and nuclear technology are the major innovation raising these issues. This report explores technological advancement and the increasing use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in the field of biometric technology. It is structured to provide a thorough perspective of facial recognition technology including its current and potential uses and the emerging controversies associated with the use of the technology both for and against. Also, analysing the ethics of the facial recognition technology on the basis of principle of utilitarianism, deontology and Rawls Theory of justice. Based on all this, conclusion is drawn about the ethicality of facial recognition technology in UK.


    Facial Recognition Technology and its uses

    Facial recognition is a software application which is having the capability to identify and verify the person by analysing the facial patterns of the person. This software analyses the facial features and match it with the database and identify who you are (Akhtar and Rattani, 2017). In private sector, it is widely used in advertisement and marketing purposes with individual customers profiled and identified to predict their preferences based on their facial expression (Kranzberg, 2019). The recent evolution of artificial intelligence has opened new possibilities in public sector also which includes law and border management. Currently it is been used in a variety of different ways. Some of its application is stated below.

    Device security: Many apps and devices are using facial recognition for the purpose of protecting data (Basak, Jia and Lei, 2018). As even a secure password cannot guarantee security of account and information because hackers are more skilled and they have many ways to hack the information so people have turned to facial recognition. This application requires user face to unlock the device or access the private data.

    Identifying genetic disorders: These applications are also used in healthcare centres as well. There are healthcare apps like Face2Gene that uses facial recognition to identify and detect a genetic disorder (Naik, et.al, 2019). Apps analyse and compare the faces of those that contain disorder.

    Airline Use: Even airlines are using facial technology to identify passengers. Airlines such as Delta and JetBlue have already implemented this system.

    Trial evidence: with the increasing use and reliability of Facial Recognition Technology, it is now used as an evidence in the court.

    Used by police for security purpose: In UK, police has been using this technology in CCTV cameras as a security measure since 2016 (Zulfiqar, et.al, 2019). It has been used to scan faces in the crowd against the police database which contains the information about the most wanted or missing person.

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    Controversy associated with the use of Facial Recognition Technology

    With the increase in accuracy has prompted private business ethics and public authorities to start using this technology across various domain around the world (Wang, 2018). This in turn has sparked debate on its impact on the fundamental rights. There is campaign in UK where campaigners says that facial recognition breaches their human rights and privacy. Also, claims that the use of technology will deter people from expressing their views or go public for protests (Ringrose, 2019). The technology cannot be fully relied and is less accurate when it comes to recognising black people and women. One of the biggest threat associated with the use of facial recognition technology is that its use for identity theft which is the violation of GDPR. Campaigners including Liberty UK, have stressed that mass surveillance of people in public violates three articles of Human Rights Convention (Feng and Xie, 2019). The major concern is the use of technology for law enforcement which increases the concern for misleading someone with another which eventually leads to wrongful conviction. This can be damaging to the society for abusing like continuous surveillance of the public (Piper, 2019). Also, the trials done by South Wales Police had an error rate of 90%. Another downside of it is storage of data and the risk associated with it (Hung, et.al, 2016). Apart from all the negative aspect the positive side of its says that it is very useful in implementing safety and security. It will be very useful for government agencies to uncover criminals. In order to get benefit from the positive sides of facial recognition it is essential for society to work through the challenges that comes with it. The most importantly it should solve the problem of privacy to take public in confidence. So, these are the few controversies that are currently faced by UK.

    Principles of Ethics

    To know whether the use of Facial recognition technology is ethical or not, three important principles are used here. A detailed description is given below.

    Principle of Utilitarianism: It is an ethical principle that places focus on right and wrong outcomes. It moves beyond the interest of one self and takes care of others (Mill, 2016). It states that most ethical outcome comes from ethical choice that will produce the greatest good. It is the common approach for moral reasoning and used in business (Patrick and Werkhoven, 2017). It has been criticized for not adequately protecting the individual rights.

    Principle of deontology: This theory states that people are morally obligated to act in accordance with the certain set of principles regardless of outcome (Baron, 2017). This theory is based on the view that human beings are having the unique capacity for rationality and the moral worth of action is determined by the human will. It states that some acts needed to be morally obligatory irrespective of its consequences on human welfare. Nothing is good without good will and it the will which act in accord with the moral laws (Jackson and Smith, 2016). This theory is easy to apply as it just requires people to follow the rules. It fits well with the natural intuition irrespective of ethical or unethical. This theory avoids subjective and uncertainty because it only requires to follow rules.

    Despite its strength, this rigid system makes many people finding it unacceptable as it is driven by code of ethics. So, these rules makes this theory easy to apply but also disregarding its consequences from our action while determining what is right and what is wrong.

    Rawls Theory of Justice: The theory of justice was given by John Rawls. This theory is focussed towards liberalism and forms the basis on which law enforcement and criminal system should strive for (Buchanan, Structure 2017). This theory states that principle of justice can be founded in social contract. But Rawls identifies that social contract does not allow fairness and equality to exist among its members. Ultimately, Rawls argues that the primary concern of justice is fairness and has proposed two principles which are: First, every person needs to have equal rights with basic liberty compatibility with similar liberty for others (Scanlon, 2020). Second is everyone should share in the wealth of the society and receive benefits from such wealth.

    So, all the three theories have different basis for evaluating ethicality of the situation or action. Utilitarianism justifies based what is right for large number of people. Rawls also does the same thing by asking what a rational citizen want for themselves. Deontology theory is based on rule to distinguish between what is right and wrong.

    Ethics of facial recognition technology

    Technology that is required to be implemented should be morally and ethically fit. To understand the applicability of these theories, a specific example is taken within the UK which will help in getting a clear picture. A detailed analysis is given below. 

    • From utilitarianism point of view, it can be said that the advantages of the implementation of facial recognition is more significant than the risk and drawbacks of it (Nagin, 2019). Even though, people are providing their biometric data, they are ultimately disclosing their personal characteristics just for the betterment and security of the nation (Tavani, 2016). The government of UK is using facial technology to better identify the threats, solving criminal cases and ultimately serving the entire nation and its citizens. Government is currently looking at the whole nation and identifying the needs based on which decisions are taken irrespective of its various drawbacks and risks associated with it (Forcehimes and Semrau, 2019). Thus, utilitarianism falls in favour of facial recognition and makes it ethical. 
    • The deontological perspective demonstrates how the implementation and usage of facial recognition technology to gather data for governmental use is moral and ethical. The use of this technology is ultimately for the support and betterment of the society (Chandler, 2019). With the increasing use of this technology will help in enhancing and supporting the people and helps in ensuring their safety (Goodman, 2016). The use of this technology will have some negative impact on the society like gathering all the important information of the each and every individual and storing in a system which is interconnected to other system. This results in hacking of the complete system if any single account is hacked. It also puts in danger the privacy of the people (Boylan, 2017). The intention of the UK government is genuine to enhance and improve the lives of the individuals which makes it ethically acceptable for the use of facial recognition technology regardless of the consequences.
    • Based on Rawls theory of justice, the usage of facial recognition technology is not justified. That is, the intention to increase safety by collecting biometric data is not right because freedom of people and privacy is violated (GaliÅ¡anka, 2019). For example the use of live facial recognition cameras by Metropolitan police of UK, with the objective to find suspects involved in serious crimes (Reamer, 2017). But the deployment of this technology will take under surveillance all the citizens of the country. This breaks all the social contract given to the citizens by the government. The cameras will be paced in the areas popular with tourists and shoppers and each of these cameras will look for faces contained in the list created (Dworkin, 2017). It is the duty and responsibility of the government to use the new technology for increasing safety of the people. From this perspective it is ethical but from the people's point of view it is not ethical as this theory runs on the basis of what rational consumer wants for themselves.

    So, from the above it can be stated that based on two theories, that is, principle of utilitarianism and the principle of deontology the implementation of facial recognition system is ethical as it is for the betterment of the society in UK as compared to Rawls theory of justice. As this theory, only looks after the needs and perception of the people.


    From the above it can be said that the use of facial recognition technology is the most easy and widely used biometric tool. It only concerns about the two things, that is, development bias and facial recognition ethics. The UK government has taken care of it all. It has complied with all the rule and regulations associated with it. It has understood the importance of implementing this technology in their country and its benefits. Also, its potential uses had been highlighted which is very important to convince people how it is beneficial to them and the nation as a whole. The problem that were faced by UK with respect to facial recognition technology has created distress in the country but the government is trying to take precautionary actions to reduce the problems. The three theories of ethics were applied to get a clear understanding about the situation of the UK and to come at a conclusion. Through these different theories, the different aspects of ethics came across and by individually applying these theories to the specific UK situation has helped in coming to the final conclusion. Thus, it can be said that facial recognition technology is ethical in UK.

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