EU Could Restrict Automated Surveillance Solutions

facial recognition tech

The European Union will be taking a closer look at proposals to restrict or ban some uses of automated surveillance tools, including facial-recognition software.

The news comes after an independent panel of industry and academic experts warned against the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools with surveillance systems, adding that lawmakers need to define “red lines” around certain uses.

The EU panel, made up of 52 experts in artificial intelligence from universities, law firms and technology companies including International Business Machines Corp., Nokia Corp. and SAP SE, released a report in April, explaining that “individuals should not be subject to unjustified personal, physical or mental tracking or identification, profiling and nudging through AI-powered methods of biometric recognition.”

The panel specifically cited voice and facial recognition, as well as tracking “micro-expressions,” in the report.

As a result, the European Commission said on Wednesday (June 26) that it would study the recommendations, and could make proposals as early next year.

“When it comes to artificial intelligence, it is important that we all promote an approach centered around what is human, where we protect our fundamental rights,” said Mariya Gabriel, the EU’s commissioner for the digital economy and society, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

Several U.K. groups have called for temporary restrictions on buying facial-recognition technology. “We believe it would allow for the development of clearer regulation before the technology is used in sensitive ways on citizens,” said Hetan Shah, deputy chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute.

And U.S. lawmakers have also been taking a closer at the technology, with San Francisco becoming the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition by local agencies last month. And in early June, the American Civil Liberties Union requested a federal moratorium on facial-recognition tools for law enforcement and immigration purposes until Congress “debates what, if any, uses should be permitted.”


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