The government’s use of facial recognition technology is a threat to human rights

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27 July 2022

Media statement

The government’s use of facial recognition technology is a threat to human rights

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand has serious concerns about the ongoing development and use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in Aotearoa New Zealand and its impact on human rights.

Lisa Woods, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, said, "There is growing evidence from around the world that the use of FRT can cause and exacerbate human rights violations, in particular relating to the right to privacy and non-discrimination."

"In the context of racial discrimination in Aotearoa New Zealand, the use of FRT by government agencies could particularly impact Māori and Pasifika communities, especially if these communities have not been properly consulted."

Amnesty International is particularly concerned by reports this week that the government has failed to effectively engage with Māori leaders to assess the implications of FRT on Māori data sovereignty.

"The government has a responsibility under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and must also comply with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which covers a range of rights," said Woods.

"It is imperative the government is working with Māori on this issue, and engages with communities most at risk from FRT to ensure that their concerns are addressed."

Last year, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand ran a petition to stop the use of FRT by the New Zealand police force.

"We will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that all people enjoy their fundamental human rights," said Woods.