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EU considers banning facial biometrics for public surveillance, Moscow touts gains, Detroit delays


The European Union will consider restricting or even banning biometric facial recognition use in public surveillance systems, after an independent panel recommended lawmakers create “red lines” around certain applications of the technology, PYMNTS.com reports.

A panel of 52 experts from industry and academia published a report in April, warning 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.” Voice, face, and “micro-expression” recognition were all identified in the report as potentially infringing human rights, in certain deployments. Now, the European Commission has agreed to study the recommendations, and make proposals, possibly next year.

EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society told The Wall Street Journal that organizations need to take an approach centered on human experiences and protecting fundamental rights.

Public facial recognition leads to hundreds of arrests in Moscow

Surveillance cameras with facial recognition in Moscow have been used in the detention of 152 people at public events, 90 people at residential courtyards, and hundreds of suspects in the city’s pubic transportation system, The Moscow Times reports.

The tests in the public transit network and at public events were launched in March, 2018. Of those arrested in the transit system, 62 were on a federal wanted list.

Representatives of Moscow’s transportation department say crime rates in the metro system have been cut roughly in half over the past two and a half years, and public prosecutors say violent crimes like robbery and murder have dropped to ten-year lows.

Moscow’s surveillance network is expected to expand to as many as 200,000 cameras by the end of the year.

Detroit postpones vote

A civilian oversight board in Detroit considering the use of facial recognition by police has postponed its vote on a formal policy, according to the Associated Press.

The policy proposed by the city would require other evidence to be used along with biometric search results to confirm a suspect’s identity, and would limit live, or real-time, facial recognition to situations of credible terrorism threats. Detroit Board of Police Commissioners Chair Willie Bell told Detroit News that the issue is still under review.

Detroit police signed an agreement giving them access to real-time facial recognition software in 2017.

Live facial recognition has been used by police in the UK, but the deployments are under legal challenge, and have been heavily criticized for their lack of legal footing, including in the latest report from the Biometrics Commissioner.

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