EU Data Watchdogs Call for Ban on Facial Recognition Through AI

European Union data protection watchdogs called for a “general ban” on any use of artificial intelligence to identify people in public spaces warning of the “extremely high risks” to people’s privacy.

The two bodies charged with overseeing compliance with the bloc’s strict data protection rules called for the ban “on any use of AI.” The embargo should cover remote biometric identification of people in public and the use of technology “to categorize individuals into clusters based on ethnicity, gender, political or sexual orientation,” which could lead to discrimination.

“Deploying remote biometric identification in publicly accessible spaces means the end of anonymity in those places,” Andrea Jelinek and Wojciech Wiewiorowski, two of the bloc’s data privacy chiefs, said in a joint statement on Monday.

The call for action follows new rules proposed by the European Commission in April to impose strict limits on the use of facial recognition and other high-risk artificial intelligence applications. Britain’s privacy chief last week also issued a warning over the risks of having facial recognition technologies used in public spaces.

“Applications such as live facial recognition interfere with fundamental rights and freedoms to such an extent that they may call into question the essence of these rights and freedoms,” the heads of the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisors said.

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