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Court orders suspension of facial recognition use in São Paulo metro

ISS revealed as biometric technology provider
Court orders suspension of facial recognition use in São Paulo metro

A court in São Paulo has called for a halt in the implementation of a facial recognition system in the city’s metro stations, writes ZDNet.

Judge Cynthia Thome of the São Paulo State Court recently made the ruling in response to a suit filed by a group of civil society organizations that called for the suspension of the biometric system on grounds that it violates citizens’ right to privacy, describing it as “illegal and disproportionate.”

The rights group had also raised fears the biometric system, revealed to be SecurOS, could be integrated with the electronic system of other facial recognition surveillance entities without the consent of data subjects.

SecurOS is a video face biometrics platform launched by ISS in 2019, and it is operated for the transit system by ViaQuatro. The company has been in charge of capturing the biometrics of about four million daily metro users in Sao Paolo.

Apart from putting a halt to the system, the court also stopped the Companhia do Metropolitano de São Paulo (METRO) from rolling out any new equipment which can capture and process facial recognition data from metro users, according to ZDNet. The ruling also outlines a daily fine for the company in the case of default on the court order.

Another concern raised in the ruling is the fact that the metro operator has demonstrated a lack of transparency in terms of adequately communicating about the nature and risks related to the capture, storage and processing of the biometric data of metro users. The ruling adds that the system was also being implemented without any proper risk or impact assessment, as the face biometrics company did not give information about how the system would run and how the biometric data collected will be processed.

ZDNet says it contacted METRO for a comment but the company said had not been notified of the ruling. METRO however told the outlet it was going to file an appeal and prove that its system is being deployed in compliance with relevant local data protection regulations.

ViaQuatro was ordered by a court decision in a civil suit in May last year to halt the deployment of the facial recognition system in the São Paulo metro.

The implementation of a facial recognition system at this metro has faced stiff resistance from civil rights groups.

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