Citizens’ Biometrics Council

Our work | Identities and liberties

Ada is convening the Citizens’ Biometrics Council to bring the public’s voice into the debate about the use of biometrics technologies.

Focused around AI & data driven biometrics technologies, like live facial recognition, this will be the first citizens’ assembly of this kind on biometrics technology in the UK.

Technologies which collect and process biometric data, like live facial recognition and voice recognition, are being developed and deployed in contexts from policing and education, to virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. These technologies raise questions around surveillance, privacy, agency, data protection and more. To help address these questions, we are convening the Citizens’ Biometrics Council.

The Citizens’ Biometrics Council will consist of a demographically representative group of 60 members of the public. They will embark on a journey of deliberation and dialogue about biometrics technology and policy. It will support a deeper understanding of public perspectives and values on biometrics, and co-produce practical recommendations in collaboration with policymakers, regulators and other stakeholders, strengthening transparency, legitimacy and accountability on UK biometrics policy.

The Council is a type of citizens’ assembly, and will be the first of its kind on biometrics technology.

We are working with social research agency Hopkins Van Mil to run the Council.

We have established an Oversight Group to ensure the process is robust. Members of this group include:

  • Ali Shah, Head of Technology Policy, ICO
  • Dr Jack Stilgoe, Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies, UCL
  • Julie Dawson, Director of Regulatory and Policy, Yoti
  • Lindsey Chiswick, Head of Intelligence and Covert Policing, Metropolitan Police Service
  • Prof. Pete Fussey, Professor of Sociology, University of Essex
  • Zara Rahman, Deputy Director, The Engine Room


  1. Planning and research: October 2019 – January 2020
  2. Council convenes across six workshops: February – May 2020
  3. Analysis and reporting: June 2020 and beyond

The cost of the Citizens’ Biometrics Council is being met solely by the Ada Lovelace Institute. Members of the Council will be paid for their time in participating, to ensure fairness and inclusivity.

Find out more:

-> Sign-up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date on the Citizens’ Biometrics Council.

-> We’ll be tweeting about the Council using the hashtags #BiometricsCouncil and #BeyondFaceValue

-> Contact the team with ‘Citizens’ Biometrics Council’ in the subject line.

-> Read more about why we convene diverse voices.

-> Read more about different types of facial recognition technology.