EU privacy watchdog says facial recognition should be banned

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Europe’s most powerful privacy protection organization calls for a ban on facial recognition in public spaces.

Europe should ban facial recognition because of its “deep and non-democratic intrusion” into people’s private lives. So says the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Europe’s premier authority for privacy matters.

Their comments come two days after the European Commission proposed a set of draft rules on using artificial intelligence. The EC’s proposal allows the use of facial recognition technology to help search for missing children. It also permits AI help in finding criminals, and in cases of terrorist attacks.

The proposal is EC’s attempt to set global rules for artificial intelligence. China and the United States have dominated the AI technology sector until now. However, EU countries and the European Parliament will need to approve the draft rules before implementation.

The EDPS says yes to AI, but no to facial recognition

In a press release last week, the agency expressed their concern. “The EDPS regrets to see that our earlier calls for a moratorium on the use of remote biometric identification systems – including facial recognition – in publicly accessible spaces have not been addressed by the Commission,” they wrote.

“A stricter approach is necessary, they said. This is because such remote biometric identification “presents extremely high risks of deep and non-democratic intrusion into individuals’ private lives.”

“The EDPS will undertake a meticulous and comprehensive analysis of the Commission’s proposal to support the EU co-legislators in strengthening the protection of individuals and society at large,” they promised.

“In this context, the EDPS will focus in particular on setting precise boundaries for those tools and systems which may present risks for the fundamental rights to data protection and privacy.”