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Dutch politicians speak out in support of facial recognition at football games

Palmki vein biometrics readers deployed by club for access control
Dutch politicians speak out in support of facial recognition at football games

Some Dutch politicians have spoken out in support of the use of facial recognition at football games.

The news comes after the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) reportedly issued advice highlighting that facial recognition could only be used if there is “substantial public interest and no other less drastic measures are possible” or if the parties being filmed have previously given their consent.

As such it ruled against the use of such software in football stadiums, according to reporting by RTL Nieuws.

Rudmer Heerema, a member of the Dutch parliament, called it “incomprehensible” that the authority should object to its facial recognition use for sporting events.

“You see that all kinds of unsafe things happen in the stadiums: brawls, insults, and racism,” he argues.

“And then facial recognition is not allowed. That doesn’t make things safer.”

Objecting along similar lines, Dutch MP Bart van den Brink said that: “Technology is progressing quickly, and that is also good for our safety.”

He added: “The AP is an important advisor. It can also think along a bit so that our safety is better protected.”

Another member of the Dutch Parliament, Lilian Helder, said: “Privacy is not more important than crime.”

“You have to use the cameras. They are not there for nothing. The AP should not get in the way of that.”

Founded in 1984, the Dutch Data Protection Authority is an administrative body that has been appointed under Dutch law to supervise the processing of personal data, enforcing the General Data Protection Act (GDPR).

Facial recognition has already been adopted by some football clubs worldwide, to prevent violent incidents.

In March, owners of Liga MX teams — Mexico’s top professional soccer league — announced they would implement new fan identification registration based on facial recognition systems.

These come in response to multiple violent incidents at football games that have afflicted Mexico over the years, often involving violence among cartel members.

There are plans for this to eventually be rolled out to all Liga MX fields.

Closer to home in France, in 2020, the mayor of the French city of Nice Christian Estrosi called for the deployment of facial recognition in the city in an attempt to limit some of the impacts of violent football clashes.

Football hooliganism is a serious problem all over the world, costing UK police around £48 million per season according to their own statistics. 

Access control less contentious

Some Dutch sports clubs are currently implementing biometrics, albeit for quite different use cases.

Dutch Premier League soccer club Fortuna Sittard is set to implement the Palmki palm vein recognition technology for its access control, according to a partner announcement.

All entrance doors at the club’s office are set to be equipped with Palmki readers, giving employees access to the premise via palm vein recognition.

The company’s readers are connected to a database containing the scans of everyone who has access to a particular office.

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