Fifty global investors commit to CANDRIAM's facial recognition initiative

News Team, 09/06/2021

Fifty global investors representing more than $4.5 trillion in assets under management have signed up to CANDRIAM’s facial recognition initiative, which looks to prioritise human rights in regards to the use of the developing technology.

Signatories to The Investor Statement on Facial Recognition is a two-year collaborative engagement programme focusing on human rights in relation to use of facial recognition technology (FRT) and seeks constructive dialogue with global companies developing or using the technology.

The initiative has been welcomed by the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the FRT initiative advocates for adequate risk management and improved corporate disclosure

Signatories include Aviva Investors, Sycomore Asset Management, Domini Impact Investments and BMO Global Asset Management.

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 believes that FRT technology in its present form risks infringing on individual privacy rights given it lacks the consent of people being identified and has no official oversight. Misidentification is another issue, one that occurs more frequently among certain ethnic groups and has led to false arrests.

Despite the fact that the facial recognition market is a relatively small part of the technology market, US and China technology giants have developed multiple facial recognition products and services. After mastering the collection and analysis of users’ online behavioural data, these companies are now moving into the physical world.

When it comes to these companies, and their governmental or business clients, the signatories believe it is important to ensure FRT development is done in an ethical way, with the correct regulation and oversight.

Although there is currently no common global framework 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, while China recently published a draft standard on Security Requirements of Facial Recognition Data.

Benjamin Chekroun, Proxy Voting and Engagement Analyst at CANDRIAM said: “Facial recognition technologies are changing our lives and have the potential to present reputational, operational, and financial risks for companies as well as significant human rights risks. It is encouraging that over 50 signatories, representing more than US$4.5tn AuM, recognise their role in collectively, and collaboratively, engaging with companies to ensure this technology is being used in a responsible and lawful way.”

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