EU news: Brussels curbs facial recognition technology over Europe-wide privacy fears | Politics | News

EU news: Brussels curbs facial recognition technology over Europe-wide privacy fears | Politics | News

A leaked European Commission report obtained by The Times said the legislation will lay down rules across all member states to limit its use because “artificial intelligence applications can pose significant risks to fundamental rights”. The report added: “Without an EU-level regulatory framework, non-compliant AI goods and services raising ethical issues and potential infringements of fundamental rights will emerge on the European market, causing direct harm for consumer and businesses alike.” EU civil servants prepared the report for the next European Commission to begin on November 1 when Ursula von der Leyen will take over from Jean-Claude Juncker, who is standing down officially on that date.

She initially said she wanted “to put forward legislation for a co-ordinated European approach” on the human and ethical implications of AI.

But there were criticisms the technology would be against the rules of Brussels’ General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The GDPR reads that recognition data is considered “biometric data”, which requires explicit consent from the person whose data is being collected.

Diego Naranjo, an advocate at European Digital Rights (EDRi), said: “We have to think, as a society, if this type of technology is needed for the objective that is being used because at the end it constitutes a very serious invasion of citizen’s privacy.”

But EDRi said in a statement last month that it would take a long time “to formulate a meaningful and future-proof piece of legislation on this topic”.

The technology has been used widely by police and security forces for some time.

Technology experts appointed by the commission indicated human rights and ethical breaches in the use of the technology.

The group said: “Individuals should not be subject to unjustified personal, physical or mental tracking or identification, profiling and nudging through AI powered methods of biometric recognition such as emotional tracking, empathic media, DNA, iris, and behavioural identification, affect recognition, voice, and facial recognition and the recognition of micro-expression.”

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This was a reference to the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell, who writes that the UK became a province of a superstate ruled by ‘the Party’ whose Big Brother leader employs the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking.

The province was in the book under excessive security, watching everybody’s movements.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee condemned the technology in a recent report.

The document stated: “If certain types of faces – for example, black, Asian and ethnic minority faces or female faces – are under-represented in live facial recognition training datasets, then this bias will feed forward into the use of the technology by human operators.”

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