EU bodies call for facial recognition ban in public - Mobile World Live

EU bodies call for facial recognition ban in public

22 JUN 2021

Two European Union (EU) regulatory bodies lobbied for a ban on the use of facial recognition in public spaces, warning AI technologies being used to identify human features raised severe privacy issues.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) issued a joint statement strongly welcoming legislation on the use of AI in the EU and stressing the need to clarify data protection rules in relation to the technology.

Their calls come in response to a European Commission (EC) proposal to harmonise AI rules, including placing restrictions on facial recognition in public, but stopping short on an outright ban.

The two bodies, however want the EC to go a step further, warning “the extremely high risks posed by remote biometric identification of individuals in publicly accessible spaces”, should result in a general ban on any use of AI for automated recognition of human features in such areas.

They said this should cover recognition of faces, gait, fingerprints, DNA, voice, keystrokes and other biometric or behavioural signals in any contexts.

The EDPS and EDPB also recommended a ban on AI systems using biometrics to categorise individuals into clusters based on ethnicity, gender, political or sexual orientation. Finally the groups said the use of AI “to infer emotions of a natural person is highly undesirable and should be prohibited”.

EDPB chair Andrea Jelinek and EDPS counterpart Wojciech Wiewiorowski said the deployment of remote biometric identification in publc spaces “means the end of anonymity in those places”.

“Applications such as live facial recognition interfere with fundamental rights and freedoms to such an extent that they may call into question the essence of these rights and freedoms. This calls for an immediate application of the precautionary approach,” they added.



Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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