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European Parliament says no intention to deploy biometric facial recognition for MEP security



The European parliament insists it will not roll out biometric facial recognition technology for access control in monitoring within parliament, after information leaked hinting the institution was looking into using it for security purposes, writes The Guardian.

The Guardian further states that it reviewed an intranet page titled “artificial intelligence for better services,” which said the technology might be implemented “in the context of biometric-based security and services to members [MEPs],” but also analyzed the “consequences on working methods, processes, staff profiles and the contracting of services.”

After an MEP and staff unions spoke against the initiative, the page became unavailable.

The Dutch Liberal MEP Sophia in ’t Veld asked Klaus Welle, Secretary General of the European Parliament, about the actual benefits of “biometric-based security and services,” costs, impact and compliance with data protection regulations in the Union.

“There is no project of facial recognition in the European parliament,” and the technology was “not foreseen at any level,” a spokesperson said. “One exploratory project of the EP administration is to study and understand the potentials and threats of AI applied to parliamentary and administrative activities of the institution. This old draft mentioned facial recognition as a possible field of study, nothing more. Data protection is and remains a clear priority of the European parliament and its administration.”

Last month, the European Union said it was no longer interested in introducing a ban on facial recognition in public spaces, however there should be “clear criteria” in future mass-scale deployment of biometric identification systems in the E.U., reported Reuters and EURACTIV, after reading the latest draft of the E.U.’s Artificial Intelligence strategy.

The European Commission had announced earlier in January that it was looking into a five-year facial recognition ban for public space use to prevent abuse from government agencies and law enforcement. The Guardian reports that this proposed ban is still expected.

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