Yoti supports the seven ethical principles for biometrics

profile picture Julie Dawson 5 min read
Seven ethical principles for biometrics

We believe that our technology should keep people safe and work for everyone equally. So, we support the seven ethical principles for biometrics, released by the Biometrics Institute.

These principles enable anyone working in the biometrics industry to show they’re committed to addressing ethical issues raised by new technology – biometrics in particular. Here are the seven principles.


Ethical behaviour

The first principle states that companies must act ethically even beyond the requirements of law. Ethical behaviour means avoiding actions which harm people and their environment.

We’re proud to be one of the UK’s founding B Corps, which means that we are legally required to consider the impact of our decisions on our workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. B Corps focus on balancing purpose and profit, and using business as a force for good.

That’s why our age estimation technology, Yoti Age Scan, uses artificial intelligence for good. It simply estimates your age by looking at your face. It doesn’t store the image it captures to estimate your age or any of your personal information.


Ownership of the biometric and respect for individuals’ personal data

This principle requires personal data, even when shared, to be respected and treated with the utmost care by others.

One of our founding principles at Yoti is to encourage personal data ownership. We believe personal data should be exactly that: personal. Individuals shouldn’t have to share an excessive amount of sensitive, personal details simply to prove their age. That’s why Yoti Age Scan does not require individuals to register in advance or provide any documentary evidence of their identity.


Serving humans

Technology should serve humans and should take into account the public good, community safety and the net benefits to individuals.

We agree that technology should be developed and used for good. Social networking site, Yubo, is already using Yoti Age Scan to be able flag any accounts where there is suspicion or doubt about a user’s age. It’s a vital step towards helping protect young people online.

Retailers will soon be able to use Yoti Age Scan at self-checkouts to give shoppers a simple and secure way of proving their age for age-restricted goods, without needing to show physical ID or wait for staff assistance. Shoppers will spend less time at the self-checkout and retail staff will be free to help with other tasks, improving the overall shopping experience. ID documents can then be left at home. No one wants to lose their documents when they’re out and about or increase their risk of identity fraud.

Justice and accountability

Companies should accept the principles of openness, independent oversight, accountability and the right of appeal and appropriate redress.

One of our founding principles is to be transparent and accountable. This means we’re open and transparent about how we operate. With this in mind, we published a whitepaper that explores Yoti Age Scan in detail. We also have an external Guardian Council to ensure that we always seek to do the right thing and are transparent about what we’re doing and why.


Promoting privacy-enhancing technology

Companies should promote the highest quality of appropriate technology use including accuracy, error detection and repair, robust systems and quality control.

Yoti Age Scan is a privacy-preserving system. It simply estimates your age; you don’t need to register in advance or provide any more information about your identity. The image Yoti Age Scan captures to estimate your age is permanently deleted once your age has been estimated, protecting your privacy and identity.

We are constantly improving our age estimation technology and believe it is among the industry leaders in terms of accuracy. We expect this mean average figure to decrease as we continue to train the system.


Recognising dignity of individuals and families

Companies should support the dignity and human rights of individuals and families provided that it does not conflict with the legitimate and lawful aims of the criminal justice system to protect the public from harm.

As a B Corporation, one of the things we are measured on is how our operations and business model impacts our workers, community, environment and customers. From our supply chain and input materials, to our charitable giving and employee benefits, our B Corp certification proves we are meeting the highest standards of verified performance. The B Corp certification commits us to consider stakeholder impact for the long term by building it into our legal structure.



This principle promotes the planning and implementation of technology to prevent discrimination or systemic bias based on religion, age, gender, race, sexuality or other descriptors of humans.

Our facial recognition solutions are designed to make life easier for everyone. So we continually train Yoti Age Scan on a diverse range of genders, ages and skin tones, and we believe it is crucial to have a transparent approach when launching new technology that uses facial recognition.

We recognise the sensitivity of ethnic and gender diversity when applying machine learning techniques and share details of the accuracy rates for different ages and skin tones in our whitepaper. You can read it here.