Digital & Technology

In accordance with a draft white paper on Artificial Intelligence, the European Commission is currently considering measures to impose a temporary ban on technologies dealing with facial recognition in public places. More specifically, the paper, which gives an insight of the latest EU’s approach to Artificial Intelligence, stipulates that a future regulatory framework could “include a time–limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces” and continues by adding that the “use of facial recognition technology by private or public actors in public spaces would be prohibited for a definite period (e.g. 3–5 years) during which a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed”.

It is thus understood that the purpose of such a ban is to provide a transitional period within which data privacy concerns posed by the already widespread deployment of the technology will need to be assessed. Those who have adopted the technology would maintain that it conveys valuable social benefits, maintains public safety and security and prevents crime. However, the technology has attracted considerable resistance and a number of EU citizens have made known their objections, publicly protesting against its use.

What will be borne out of the Commission’s final report and how a balance between social security and privacy will be achieved remains to be seen. In any case, if the ban is finally implemented, the use facial recognition technologies in airports; train stations; sports events (ie through the Sports Fan ID Cards) and other public places would need to be postponed and regulated.