Countries are continuously facing a challenge in striking a balance between on one hand the need to have video surveillance and facial recognition systems in place for reasons of national security and on the other hand not impinging on an individual’s right to privacy. Facial recognition may allow law enforcement agencies to find a wanted individual in a crowd and thus may play a significant role in law enforcement and border security, however its accuracy is being debated and is being said to evoke fears of a surveillance state because of its intrusiveness on one’s privacy.
Indeed, in its white paper on artificial intelligence regulation, the EU has voiced its concern on the way systems which are driven by artificial intelligence and used by law enforcement agencies may be abused, thus posing a threat to one’s right to privacy to such an extent that the EU is considering a ‘facial recognition ban’ of up to five years. This means that the future regulatory framework would include such time-limit ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces in order to properly assess the effect of this technology and to identify and develop possible risk measures in order to prevent the technology being abused. This is without prejudice to security projects, as well as research and development which would be exempt from such ban.
Although the Commission will seek the input of Member States in relation to the white paper before taking the final decision, the Member States are for the time being encouraged to take the necessary precautions to restrict the authorities’ overreach when resorting to artificial intelligence technologies such as facial recognition and has suggested imposing obligations on both developers and users of artificial intelligence in order to ensure that individual rights and freedoms are not undermined.
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