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European Commission hasn’t completely ruled out biometric facial recognition ban in public spaces

European Commission hasn’t completely ruled out biometric facial recognition ban in public spaces

The European Commission is still considering a ban on the use of biometric facial recognition technology in public spaces in Europe, after it reviewed the feedback from a public consultation on Artificial Intelligence, Euractiv reports.

The information was stated by Kilian Gross, head of DG Connect’s Technologies and Systems for Digitizing Industry Unit, during the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee on Thursday, Sept. 3.

“We will not exclude any option, we will look into all options and will carefully analyze existing legislation,” Gross said, when asked about a ban by Pirate MEP Marcel Kolaja.

“We already have in Europe strong legislation on facial recognition that should not be overlooked. It is only allowed according to the criteria of the GDPR,” yet the EU Commission will investigate “whether we need additional safeguards or whether we need to go further and not to allow facial recognition in certain cases, certain areas or even temporarily. So, nothing is excluded.”

In July, following a European Commission consultation, the EU wanted a regulatory framework on “high-risk” AI, ranging from autonomous vehicles, to AI applications in healthcare or biometric facial recognition.

Earlier this year, the EU published a white paper on Artificial Intelligence to establish global standards for technological advancement and AI technology. “Ninety percent and 87 percent of respondents [respectively] find these concerns important or very important,” the commission said at the time.

In January, the EU announced it was considering a five-year ban on facial biometrics use in public spaces, but changed its mind shortly after, as long as there are ‘clear criteria’ in future mass-scale deployment of biometric identification systems in the EU.

“The biggest risks identified are to fundamental rights and discrimination from our citizens…that confirms the reaction we had immediately after the publication of the White Paper,” Gross said. “We see a lot of concerns about remote biometric identification in public spaces.”

Gross argues 28 percent of respondents in the white paper push for a ban on remote biometric identification in public spaces.

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