Morocco places moratorium on facial recognition, California limits police use
Morocco has placed the regulation of biometric facial recognition in the country in the hands of the National Commission for the Control of Personal Data Protection (CNDP), which has exacted a seven-month moratorium on its use by public or private organizations, as of September 2, 2019.
The authority “has agreed on the need to regulate and strictly control the use of this technology” according to a Google translation of the announcement. CNDP cites discussions currently underway to establish privacy standards for facial recognition.
An extended consultation with public and private stakeholders, civil society representatives, and national and international experts is planned. Previously deployed facial recognition systems do not appear to be impacted by the decision.
The decision notes that “(f)acial recognition raises important issues for rights and freedoms individual citizens,” and says that “(t)he increased and potentially large-scale exploitation of personal data, some of which are sensitive, and the restriction of anonymity, are all issues essential for the proper functioning of our society.” CNDP states its goal is to strike a balance between security, economic efficiency, and “community-based services” and protection of rights and freedoms.
Morocco is notably host to the 2020 meeting of the ID4Africa movement, which is the biggest trade show featuring biometric technology on the continent each year.
California passes three-year ban on police use
The State Senate of California has passed an ACLU-supported to place a temporary moratorium on the implementation of biometric facial recognition on police body cameras to provide time for the technology’s accuracy, the legal framework, and social dialogue to catch up with law enforcement’s ideal, Courthouse News reports.
Assembly Bill 1215 passed by a 22-15 margin, with two Republicans supporting it and six Democrats voting against it. Before the bill becomes law, it must survive a procedural vote in the in the State Assembly, and then be signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
“I think it’s appropriate that we have a pause to allow technology to catch up, and to allow our overall thinking and attitudes about community interaction with law enforcement to catch up as well,” said state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles).
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, however, warns that the bill would make a useful tool unavailable to law enforcement.
The ban was recently softened for a second time, limiting it to three years.
Axon said earlier this year it would decline to integrate facial recognition with police body cameras on the advice of its ethics board.
UK Biometrics Commissioner reacts to ruling
A recent judgement that the trials of real-time public facial recognition by South Wales Police are lawful leaves open “the bigger question” of whether the use of facial biometrics and other modalities by the police should operate within a specific framework, according to the UK Biometrics Commissioner’s response.
Commissioner Paul Wiles notes that the judgement only applies to the specific trials considered in the case, and says that as the first time any court in the world has considered the technology, it is unsurprising that the claimant intends to appeal the decision. In the meantime, Wiles urges a broad public debate on facial recognition and its use by various organizations, and suggests that legislation could be needed.
“Public debate is still muted but that does not mean that the strategic choices can therefore be avoided, because if we do so our future world will be shaped in unknown ways by a variety of public and private interests: the very antithesis of strategic decision making in the collective interest that is the proper business of government and Parliament,” Wiles writes.