November 29, 2021

EU data protection agencies call for ban on AI facial recognition

EU data protection agencies call for ban on AI facial recognition

The European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Data Protection Board called for an outright ban on using artificial intelligence to identify people in public places, pointing to the “extremely high” risks to privacy.

The two bodies called for a “general ban” on the practice that would include “recognition of faces, gait, fingerprints, DNA, voice, keystrokes and other biometric or behavioural signals, in any context” the British media reported.

Such practices “interfere with fundamental rights and freedoms to such an extent that they may call into question the essence of these rights and freedoms,” the heads of the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor said.

The ban would include any AI that would “categorise individuals into clusters based on ethnicity, gender, political or sexual orientation”, the statement said.

The opinion was delivered in response to the European Commission’s proposal for regulating artificial intelligence (AI), and cites the “extremely high risk posed by remote biometric identification of individuals in publicly accessible spaces.”

The opinion is intended for the European Commission. The EU’s executive arm unveiled a proposal in April to regulate AI that fell short of an outright ban on using the technology for public identification.

The commission’s plan includes special exceptions for allowing the use of mass facial recognition in cases such as searching for a missing child, averting a terror threat, or tracking down someone suspected of a serious crime.

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