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EU regulators warns facial recognition in law enforcement, commercial settings may be illegal


Privacy rights groups call for ‘day of action’ to ban facial recognition at all schools

The European Data Protection Board is worried about the legality of the use of biometric services such as Clearview AI tech in the EU, Politico writes.

“The use of a service such as Clearview AI by law enforcement authorities in the European Union would, as it stands, likely not be consistent with the EU data protection regime,” the organization said in a statement. “The EDPB has doubts as to whether any Union or Member State law provides a legal basis for using a service such as the one offered by Clearview AI. Therefore, as it stands and without prejudice to any future or pending investigation, the lawfulness of such use by EU law enforcement authorities cannot be ascertained.”

Media sources claim Clearview’s technology has already been deployed by more than 600 law enforcement agencies around the world. Sweden’s data regulator has confirmed local law enforcement units use the technology. A data watchdog in Hamburg has started investigating Clearview AI.

Dutch privacy authority warns supermarkets about facial recognition use

In the Netherlands, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) has advised the supermarket sector on the use of biometric facial recognition cameras to prevent an illegal use, through a letter sent to the Central Food Trade Agency (CBL).

“Facial recognition is a tough tool,” said Monique Verdier, vice president of the AP, in a prepared statement (per Google translate). “This makes it possible to follow people on a large scale. That may start with a supermarket, which can find out with just the push of a button how often you enter the store and what you buy. That ends with a situation that we are continuously monitored, with facial recognition in all shops and on the street. We must prevent such a surveillance society. ”

According to Verdier, the use of sensitive biometric data including facial recognition is “in principle prohibited,” as per GDPR requirements. When a supermarket used the technique, it was contacted and asked to cease the practice. The only exceptions are when people have given explicit consent or when used for security and authentication as an “important public interest.”

“However, the security of a supermarket is not so important that biometric data can be processed for this,” AP says.

The organization reaches out to facial recognition camera vendors to request information about which sectors purchase these systems. The AP can start an investigation in cases of suspected privacy legislation violations.

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