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EU lawmaker: AI Act facial recognition loopholes are an ‘attack on civil rights’

EU lawmaker: AI Act facial recognition loopholes are an ‘attack on civil rights’
 

The European Union is introducing a loophole in the upcoming Artificial Intelligence Act that allows law enforcement agencies to use retrospective facial recognition technology without court approval, according to European Member of Parliament Svenja Hahn.

The German lawmaker, who is a member of the liberal Renew group, said that the changes were not in the original agreement on the AI Act finalized in early December. According to the deal reached at the time, law enforcement was allowed to use remote biometric identification systems in public spaces but only under certain conditions. The technology can be deployed with approval from courts and for a strictly defined list of crimes.

However, by the time that the full legal text was drafted by the EU Council on December 22 the changes were already introduced, Politico reports.

The Council at the time was presided over by Spain. Currently, the EU body is finalizing the Acts’s interpretative provisions, known as recitals, under the presidency of Belgium.

Hahn called the final text of the AI Act an “attack on civil rights” that could allow for “irresponsible and disproportionate use of biometric identification technology, as we otherwise only know from authoritarian states such as China.”

The use of facial recognition surveillance by law enforcement has proved one of the largest stumbling blocks in the negotiations for the AI Act. The EU Council has advocated for a number of exceptions for law enforcement while some European lawmakers are seeking to ban the technology altogether.

The Ai Act is expected to take effect sometime after 2025.

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