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Complex debates over things like facial recognition will take time to sort out, lawmakers say.

Europe’s effort to set a standard for artificial intelligence will likely take more than a year, according to a report in Reuters. Two key EU lawmakers said the debate will focus on whether facial recognition should be banned and who should enforce the rules.

The European Commission proposed its draft AI rules last year. The legislation seeks to take the lead in a key technology sector that is currently dominated by China and the United States.

The move came after the COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of algorithms and internet-connected gadgets in daily life. The EU executive has to negotiate its proposal with the European Parliament and EU countries before it can become legislation.

Facial recognition is a major stumbling block

Parliament may agree on a common position in November. This would start talks with EU countries that could take a year and a half. This is what Dragos Tudorache, one of two lawmakers steering the issue, told Reuters in an interview.

Tudorache said facial recognition is a key topic. The EC wants to allow its use by law enforcement in terror attacks and serious crime. But civil rights activists fear it could facilitate discrimination and surveillance by governments and companies.

“Facial recognition is going to be the biggest ideological discussion between the right and left,” he said. He then added, “I don’t believe in an outright ban. For me the solution is to put the right rules in place,” he said.

Lawmaker Axel Voss, who is looking into the legal framework, agreed that facial recognition should be allowed with safeguards in place.

While the Commission wants national authorities to enforce the rules, Tudorache said some aspects should be handled by the Commission.

“There needs to be a more centralised approach, a hybrid approach where the basic implementation is at national level by national regulators and certain applications and certain impact left to the Commission, a bit like the EU competition regime,” he said.