Using FaceID technology on construction site from the personal data protection perspective

The Office for Personal Data Protection carried out within its inspection authority an inspection, subject of which was a processing of personal data related to using facial recognition technology (FaceID) for identifying workers present on construction site (the inspection was carried out at a construction company). FaceID is a timesheet system allowing to record time of arrival and departure of individuals entering and leving the construction site based on facial recognition. Using this technology means that a special category of data – biometric data – is processed.

The Office found the usage of FaceID grounded in this case, whereas the legal ground for processing was compliance with legal obligation (in particular an employment-law obligation). The Office also said that this was a specific case where the inspected person was able to prove that the processing of biometric data is necessary to ensure protection on large construction site. The inspected person was not able to reach this goal by other, less invasive means at the same time, or more precisely the previously used less invasive means proved to be ineffective. However, the Office also pointed out that on usual circumstances, employers cannot rely on such legal ground when processing biometric data.

Taking also the above into consideration, we are of the opinion that this is an extraordinary and specific case since the technology in question, in line with the previous opinions of Working Party 29, constitutes an invasive interference with privacy of monitored subjects. Therefore, no rule that FaceID technology (or other similar technology) may be used on the basis of the fulfillment of a legal obligation as a legal ground for the processing of personal data could be inferred. The reasion is that in general, there are other and less invasive ways (e.g. running a reception, gatehouse, turnstiles, etc.) that can be used to ensure workplace safety.

Information on the inspection carried out are available at the Office website: https://bit.ly/2ocJhPN


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