Facial Recognition Technology in New Zealand –  legal and ethical parameters

A/Prof Nessa Lynch1

1Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

In this paper, I will report some initial findings and recommendations from an ongoing research project on the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in New Zealand. FRT is a fast-emerging technology which has a vast array of government and private sector usage, from police surveillance to immigration to gambling regulation to retail. The technology potentially impacts a range of rights and interests, particularly privacy and non-discrimination.

While some aspects of usage by government agencies is covered by existing legislation and regulation, rapidly increasing usage has preceded discussion of appropriate parameters.

Funded by the Law Foundation of New Zealand’s Information Law and Policy fund, the project brings together researchers from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom to analyse the legal, ethical and moral parameters of the use of this technology in New Zealand.

The paper will discuss the various usages of the technology, and the rights and interests affected (in the particular context of New Zealand’s human rights and constitutional frameworks). Potential regulatory options will also be analysed.


Dr Nessa Lynch is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where she teaches and researches in youth justice, sentencing and biometrics. This project is funded by the Law Foundation of New Zealand’s Information Law and Policy Project.

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