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Rising pan-European and International Awareness of Biometrics and Security Ethics

Final Report Summary - RISE (Rising pan-European and international awareness of biometric and security ethics)

After three years of intense activity, RISE has achieved its ambitious objectives. Four high-level workshop were convened in Europe (Brussels) and saw the participation of speakers of the highest political echo, amongst whom the vice president and transport commissioner Siim Kallas and the European data protection supervisor, Peter Hustinx. One meeting was held in United States (US) (Washington DC) in May 2011 and participants included key US government officers, amongst whom the DHS privacy officer Ms Mary Ellen Callaghan. During the RISE lifecycle, four meetings were also convened in Asia (New Delhi in 2009, Hong Kong in 2010, Taiwan in 2010 and Beijing in 2011), and represented strategic opportunities to involve into the international dialogue on ethics of biometrics, privacy and international data sharing institutional representatives from India and China, such as Mr Shri Sachin Pilot, Indian Ministry of Communication and Mr Roderick Woo, HK privacy commissioner. The final conference of the project was a high level event where all RISE stakeholders could meet and exchange views on the objectives achieved, as well as future opportunities to continue the dialogue on security technology ethics.

Project context and objectives:

RISE is a 36-month coordination action. The overarching objective of the RISE project is to ensure continuity to the international dialogue on ethics of biometrics and security technologies already instigated by two previous conferences organised by the European Commission (EC) directorate-general (DG) 'Research' (Brussels, 2005) and the US DHS privacy office (Washington, 2006), and to enlarge the debate to Asian actors. RISE aims to set up a permanent international dialogue initiative that will provide an informal, open forum to discuss ethical, privacy and social issue raised by biometrics and security technologies.

Three key ideas drive the workplan:

1. dialogue must be global;
2. policy must be ethically informed;
3. conversation must be ongoing

These ideas generated three strategic objectives:

1. preparing and convening a third international conference in China;
2. preparing and convening a European multi-stakeholder conference;
3. preparing and convening a fourth international conference and launching a permanent dialogue initiative.

Each of these strategic objectives has been encapsulated into specific work packages (WPs 2-4) and activities. Apart from WPs 2-4, other activities were carried out to create the basis for the project's smooth development (WP1) and to support the promotion of the events and disseminate the results (WP5).

Security is an area where ethics and fundamental values have been hardly considered relevant. The nature of security has led to arguments about a particular need for secrecy and efficiency of decisions, which by many is considered difficult to reconcile with the requirements for democratic accountability and respect for ethical principles. The European Union (EU) is now on the verge of a multifaceted reform of its decision-making rules for security, which may have deep ethical and political implications. RISE's framing point is the new political landscape created by the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The assumption that security policies, as well as international agreements relevant to them, have to be consistent with EU values demands a paradigm shift. RISE will address these issues. RISE's strategy stresses that the nature and uncertainty of new threats, their pathways and potential effects requires a global approach, which involves not only transatlantic actors but also other players. Asia encompasses nearly 60 % of the world's population and 60 % of world trade. The international dialogue started with the two previous conferences on ethics of biometrics in Brussels (2005) and Washington DC (2006) should then continue and enlarge to Asia.

Project results:

The activities performed by the RISE consortium focused on convening four meetings in Asia, one in the US, and five in Europe. These events represented crucial events to establish a good interaction among different actors, institutions, networks and policy makers in Europe, US and Asia.

International conferences in Asia

During the first phase of the project, through the organisation of two high-level meetings in Asia, RISE has succeeded in enlarging the international debate on the complex issues surrounding privacy and data protection of emerging technologies to a wide range of international stakeholders, that includes now also two Asian countries, India and China. The first meeting in Asia was held in New Delhi on the 24 - 25 September 2009 and was organised by the data security council of India. The New Delhi meeting resulted in a great success and provided an excellent opportunity for EU and Indian authorities, academics and industry players to reflect on communalities and differences between India and the EU on the ethical review of emerging security technologies, including biometrics, and on issues related to privacy and data protection standards for IT and ITES-BPO industry.

The 3rd international conference on 'Ethics and policy of biometrics and international data sharing' was held in Hong Kong on the 4 - 5 January 2010, and represented an invaluable opportunity to further enlarge the debate in Asian and directly include China into the conversation. It targeted RISE's objective 1.The conference was highly successful in bringing the awareness on the ethics and policy of biometrics and other emerging technologies, and a significant step forward in developing consensus, collaborations and understanding on ethical, medical, legal, social, cultural and political issues among researchers, policymakers, consumers and privacy groups which usually address these issues from different perspectives. The two conferences resulted in two reports that were posted on the RISE website and made available to the RISE stakeholder community. The HK conference contributions were collected as post-conference proceedings in a book on 'Ethics and policy of biometrics' published by Springer.

Four stakeholder workshops in Europe

The second objective of the RISE project has been to further engage multiple European stakeholders in this debate. Four stakeholder workshops have been convened in Europe and have been very productive, with high quality presentations on important policy issues and technical developments and lively participation of the audience during the meetings. The participants' contributions to the first three stakeholder workshops have been used as input to contribute to the organisation of the final multi-stakeholder conference, held in Brussels in December 2010.

The first workshop on individual identity succeeded in exploring policy issues related to the international management of identities in the globalised and networked society, with particular attention paid for understanding the role of emerging identification technologies for border security purposes in the EU. Among the main ethical issues raised has been the lack of awareness of the complexity with which different societies view security issues that results in significant challenges in policy making in the EU security field. These differences may also influence the reception of particular technologies by citizens of individual member states. The dialogue within multiple stakeholder groups can contribute to the definition of the main issues at stake for a more secure, effective and responsive management of European borders.

During the second stakeholder workshop on 'Global mobility and security', a policy brief concerning the recent controversy on body scanning technologies at the European airports was officially presented to the transport commissioner Siim Kallas, and aimed at contributing to the debate around the adoption of such a technology in Europe. The workshop agenda included the participation of speakers of the highest political echo, such as the Estonian Minster of Defense, Mr Jaak Aaviksoo, and the European data protection supervisor, Mr Peter Hustinx.

The third stakeholder workshop on 'Global mobility and security', held in September 2010, was conceived as the continuation of the 2nd workshop. The meeting saw the participation of high-level speakers and brought together 50 participants from 15 different EU countries. The European institutions were represented by Peter Hustinx, European data protection supervisor, and Ioannis Tsoukalas, Greek MEP. High level speakers included also Vasilios Zorkadis, Hellenic data protection authority, and international experts in biometrics and data protection and identity management.

Finally, RISE multi-stakeholder conference was held in December 2010, targeted RISE's objective 2 and aimed at further promoting the wider involvement of the community of European stakeholders. The meeting was built on the previous workshops and saw the participation of 60 attendees. The agenda consisted in 17 high-level speakers of various backgrounds, such as security, privacy and technology development. European and MSs institutions were represented by Peter Hustinx, European data protection supervisor, Alexander Alvaro, MEP from Spain, ALDE coordinator of the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, as well as Richard Rikens from DG Home Affairs and Reinhard Smith from the Austrian Ministry of Interior.

The inclusion of a new Asian partner in the rise consortium and the organisation of two additional meetings in Asia

As a result of the networking efforts at the HK conference, an additional Asian-based partner was added to the RISE consortium. The National ChengChi University of Taiwan, represented by Prof. Chi-Shing Chen from the College of Law officially joined the consortium in February 2010 as non-funded partner. The RISE consortium considered the addition of a NCCU as crucial to strengthen the impact of the project in Asia and particularly in mainland China. Two new events have been added to the RISE project calendar, which have been organised by Prof. Chen and his team. The first was the RISE pan-Asian conference held in Taipei in October 2010, and the second was the workshop in Beijing held in October 2011, co-organised with the Chinese Academy of Science. These meetings represented a great opportunity for RISE partners to get directly in contact with the Chinese political matrix.

The Washington meeting and rise final conference

The EU-US transatlantic dialogue on security technology policies and international data sharing was kept ongoing through the organisation of the Washington meeting, that was also conceived as the preparatory meeting for RISE final conference. The Washington meeting was a strategic opportunity to strengthen and enlarge the networking potential of the RISE project in North America. Mary Ellen Callahan, the Chief Privacy Officer of the US Department of Homeland Security, gave a keynote speech during the event. Robert A. Mocny, acting director of the US visitor and immigrant status indicator technology (US-VISIT) programme, and Duane Blackburn, policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, chief of the Subcommittee on Biometrics and Identity Management, attended also the meeting.

RISE final conference took place in Brussels on 1 - 2 December 2011. During the meeting, the committee on ethics, society and privacy of the recently established European Association for Biometrics (EAB), a permanent dialogue-platform on ethics of biometrics and security technologies, was officially presented. The committee aims at promoting discussion and coordination among different, and sometimes conflicting, actors on the delicate issues touched in the scope of RISE. The committee will be a space where to bring together individuals, organisations, national and international institutions, to give everyone a voice and establish trust among all parties in order to implement biometrics and other security technologies within the framework offered by the charter of fundamental rights of the EU. The establishment of this committee targeted RISE's objective 3.

Potential impact:

Dissemination and communication activities

Ongoing dissemination and communication activities have been of crucial importance in the scope of RISE. They included the issue of pre-event and post-event press releases to publicise RISE conferences and workshops, as well as the online monitoring of news related to RISE and the creation of the project's press book; the creation and the constant update of the project's contact database, as well as the maintenance of the project's website, which represented the most important communication tool for the project; the publication of a book and a special issue of an international scientific journal, as well as of policy briefs and articles; the issue of two toolkits on biometrics for industry and policy makers.

The book on 'Ethics and policy of biometrics' and the special issue on emerging global issues in biometrics and policy

As already mentioned in the devoted section, the HK conference has been very productive so far, with high quality presentations on important technical developments and ethical and legal issues, and the lively participation of members during the meeting. This yielded enough ideas and material to produce a book on 'Ethics and policy of biometrics', containing significant and important new insights.

The Washington meeting, held in May 2011, also produced excellent outcomes that resulted in the publication of a special issue of the American journal Review of Policy Research. All articles of the special issue are available at the following link

Meeting reports

Through the meetings convened in Europe, Asia and America, the project succeeded in introducing the complex issues surrounding security technologies, privacy and international data sharing to a wide range of international stakeholders. RISE meetings participants continued to discuss the questions that were addressed at the face-to-face meetings and raised in briefs and reports during its whole lifecycle.

Ten meeting reports are available on the RISE website:

- India meeting report - New Delhi meeting on biometrics and data protection, 24 - 25 September 2009
- First stakeholder workshop report - workshop on individual identity, Brussels, 5 - 6 November 2009
- HK international conference report - HK conference on 'Ethics of biometrics and international data sharing', HK, 4 - 5 January 2010
- 2nd stakeholder workshop report - workshop on 'Ethical and policy implications of global mobility and security', Brussels, 25 - 26 March 2010
- 3rd stakeholder workshop report, Brussels, 23 - 24 September 2010
- Pan-Asian Taiwan conference report, Taiwan, 21 - 22 October 2010
- Multi-stakeholder conference report, 9 - 10 December 2010
- Washington preliminary meeting report, 5 - 6 May 2011
- Beijing workshop report, November 2011
- RISE final conference report, 1 - 2 December 2011.

Project website:

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