By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Two European privacy bodies joined together on Monday to call for a ban on the use of facial recognition in public places, contrary to a European Union plan to allow the technology to be used for security reasons.
In April, the European Commission proposed rules on artificial intelligence, including banning most surveillance, in an attempt to set global standards for key technologies dominated by China and the United States.
The proposal allows applications to be used in areas such as migration and law enforcement, while establishing strict safeguards, with the threat of fines of up to 6% of a company’s global revenue for violations.
The proposal needs to be negotiated with EU countries and parliamentarians from the bloc before becoming law.
The two privacy agencies, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), warn of the extremely high risks posed by remote biometric identification of individuals in public areas.
“EDPB and EDPS call for a general ban on any use of AI for automated recognition of human characteristics in publicly accessible spaces, such as face recognition, gait, fingerprints, DNA, voice, keys and other biometric or behavioral signals ”, stated the bodies.
They said AI systems that use biometrics to categorize individuals into groups based on ethnicity, gender, political or sexual orientation should also be banned.
Using technology to infer a person’s emotions should also be banned, except in very specific cases, such as for health purposes, they said.
“A general ban on the use of facial recognition in publicly accessible areas is the necessary starting point if we are to preserve our freedoms and create a human-centred legal framework,” said EDPB President Andrea Jelinek and EDPS Head , Wojciech Wiewiorowski.
Although the opinion is not binding, it has weight for the Commission, the EU countries and the European Parliament.
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