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Italy considers new biometric surveillance pilots amidst opposition’s concerns

Italy considers new biometric surveillance pilots amidst opposition’s concerns

Biometric surveillance is a valuable tool to prevent crime, but it needs to be deployed in respect of Italian citizens’ privacy rights.

The claims come from Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, who recently told Quotidiano Nazionale he was considering an extensive video surveillance system with facial recognition capabilities for deployment in Rome, Milan, and Naples.

“It’s obvious that safety and privacy rights need to be balanced. Just a few days ago, we started discussing the matter with the Garante [Italy’s privacy watchdog] to find a shared solution.”

Piantedosi added that initial technology pilots at train stations in the three cities yielded positive results. However, more work will be needed to strengthen security in the metropolitan areas further.

“The positive results, while not resolutive of the problem, have led me to agree with the [city] mayors a directive to widen controls in the neighboring areas and permanently adopt this reinforced security measure into the coordinated control plans of the territory.”

Piantedosi’s claims come days after Member of the European Parliament and Italy’s Partito Democratico (PD) Brando Benifei authored and co-signed a paper calling for the elimination of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered “invasive technologies” such as emotion recognition, social scoring, and biometric cameras in public places.

The paper is scheduled to be signed by the EU parliament by the end of the year, but Benifei expects some exceptions to the rules to be added to the text for national security reasons.

Meanwhile, PD Filippo Sensi directly replied to Piantedosi’s remark about deploying additional facial recognition tools in Rome, Milan, and Naples.

“We are sorry to inform the Interior Minister that facial recognition in public places is not allowed in our country today,” Sensi wrote on Twitter on Monday. “A moratorium prohibits it until the end of 2023. I will fight for the moratorium to become a ban, waiting for Europe to say a definitive word.”

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