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EU parliament majority now in favor of banning AI surveillance in public

EU parliament majority now in favor of banning AI surveillance in public

Renew, the third largest group in the EU parliament, has joined the Greens and Socialists & Democrats groups in backing a ban on artificial intelligence (AI)-powered facial recognition in public crowds.

The move was reported by Politico, which received a document detailing a proposed civil liability law for artificial intelligence applications.

“We’re going to ban what we believe is not according to our values, the deployment [of biometric identification] in public spaces where we as Europeans, we believe that we need to be free of the risks of mass surveillance,” Dragoș Tudorache from Renew said.

“The prevailing position in this house is to support the ban for this technology.”

Tudorache’s words represent a definite U-turn for the minister, who earlier this year opposed the ban in the AI Act, saying there was a legitimate role for face biometrics in law enforcement.

“The mood has changed,” he told Politico. “In my group, there is a majority that supports this idea of a ban.”

According to Tudorache, the change of heart derives from the fact that, upon further analyses, Renew concluded they would not want exemptions for the police to use face biometrics technologies in specific cases, as those would represent “very difficult control and accountability.”

Despite the minister’s words, however, some countries in the EU, including France, see facial recognition as a necessity for public safety.

This trend was also highlighted by draft changes made to the AI Act by EU countries and seen by Politico. According to the document, some EU countries are pushing to add more exemptions for law enforcement.

These include the police being able to use real-time facial recognition (RTFR) to prevent any “substantial threat” to critical infrastructure. The exceptions join the list, which already includes searching for kidnapping victims and suspects of crime.

German liberal Svenja Hahn told Politico that negotiations are still ongoing, but the EU parliament will formally try to secure its position on the matter by the end of the year.

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