EU data protectionists call for a ban on facial recognition in public places

EU data protectionists call for a ban on facial recognition in public places

In a joint statement, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) call for a general ban on the use of artificial intelligence for the automatic identification of human characteristics in publicly accessible locations. Surveillance techniques include facial recognition, human gait, fingerprints, DNA, voice, keystrokes and other biometric or behavioral cues.

The EDPS and EDPB are calling for a tightening of the EU’s draft law on the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI). In opinion Both institutions have named a number of cases at the EU level for which they are seeking an explicit ban on automated decision-making systems.

In addition to AI-assisted recording of human characteristics in a public place, AI systems that divide people into groups using biometric data and thus classify them according to ethnicity, gender, political or sexual orientation, could also be theoretically implemented. should be banned from. Privacy advocates are also targeting the artificial intelligence that enables social scoring. With the exception of personal applications in the medical field, the EDPS and EDPB also call for a ban on AI for emotional recognition.

Protection of anonymity in public places

Also sits on the European Data Protection Board Ulrich Kelber, Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in Germany. “We don’t want AI in the gray area of ​​fundamental rights,” he justified the demands. Therefore, he advocates banning AI “which is contrary to a basic liberal-democratic understanding.”

“The use of biometric remote identification in publicly accessible rooms means the end of anonymity in these spaces,” says Andrea Jellinek, president of the EDPB and Wojciech Wieworowski from the EDPS. “Applications such as live facial recognition encroach upon fundamental rights and freedoms to such an extent that they may question the essence of those rights and freedoms.”

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A general ban on the use of facial recognition in publicly accessible areas is the essential starting point if we want to preserve our freedoms and create a human-centered legal framework for AI, data protectionists continue.

In April, the EU Commission presented the first draft legislation to regulate AI applications. The field of international cooperation in law enforcement was explicitly excluded in the draft. The EDPS and EDPB are “concerned” about this, the opinion said.

Pay close attention to applicable data protection regulations

Data protection officials welcome the fact that the EU is fundamentally dedicating itself to the subject. The draft is based on the division of various AI applications into different risk types, which are to be regulated to varying degrees depending on the level of risk on fundamental rights. EU data protectionists are fundamentally in favor of this approach. However, they are calling for this risk to be brought in line with the EU’s data protection framework for fundamental rights.

The law should also emphasize that there are already rules in place for the use of AI through the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other EU data protection regulations. When automated decision-making systems process personal data, GDPR ultimately applies.

The Commission plans that the National Data Protection Authority will become the competent supervisory authority for the application of the new regulation. EDPS and EDPB also support this proposal. However, the commission also wants to assign itself an important role to the “European Artificial Intelligence Board”. “This is contrary to the need for a European AI body that is independent of political influence,” the data protectionists said. They demand that the body should be given more autonomy so that it can act on its own initiative.

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Worldwide objection to biometric surveillance

There is a worldwide protest against the use of biometric surveillance systems. More than 175 well-known civil society organizations, scientists and activists recently issued an open letter calling for a worldwide ban on biometric surveillance in public places.

The criticism is similar to that of EU data protectionists. so it says in the announcement: “Some surveillance technologies are so dangerous that they inevitably cause far more problems than they solve. The use of facial recognition and biometric technologies in publicly accessible areas enables mass surveillance and discriminatory targeted surveillance The potential for misuse of these technologies is very high and the consequences are very dire.

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