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Proposed facial recognition use rules for Irish police hits resistance among slim majority

Proposed facial recognition use rules for Irish police hits resistance among slim majority

Green Party ministers in the Cabinet of Ireland’s coalition government, as well as Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, have expressed concerns about the proposed legal basis for facial recognition use by Irish police, the Sunday Independent writes. The legislation now appears in jeopardy.

The Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill 2022 proposed by Justice Minister Helen McEntee would give the Gardai legal grounds to use facial recognition in major investigations such as those involving murder, missing persons and child sexual abuse. Real-time facial recognition is also approved in the Bill, in certain circumstances.

Ireland’s Environment and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan told Cabinet he and his three Green Party colleagues in Cabinet are concerned about the privacy and civil rights impact of the biometric technology, while Donnelly referred to broad criticism from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties that facial recognition is biased.

Donnelly also referred to a set of recommendations from the Oireachtas Justice Committee, including that police body cameras not have facial recognition built into them, which the proposal would depart from.

McEntee has been asked to engage with the country’s Data Protection Commissioner and other experts in the field to craft a paper for review by Cabinet prior to the legislation being considered by parliamentary committees

Even with the votes of Green Party members, Ireland’s government holds the advantage in the country’s Dáil Éireann (or lower house) by a single seat.

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