European Parliament calls for a ban on facial recognition

The European Parliament today called for a ban on police use of facial recognition technology in public places, and on predictive policing, a controversial practice that involves using AI tools in hopes of profiling potential criminals before a crime is even committed.

In a resolution adopted overwhelmingly in favor, MEPs also asked for a ban on private facial recognition databases, like the ones used by the controversial company Clearview AI. The Parliament also supports the European Commission’s attempt in its AI bill to ban social scoring systems, such as the ones launched by China that rate citizens’ trustworthiness based on their behavior.

“This is a huge win for all European citizens,” said Petar Vitanov (S&D), the resolution’s author.

The non-biding resolution sends a strong signal on how the Parliament is likely to vote in upcoming negotiations of the AI Act. The European Commission’s proposal of the bill restricts the use of remote biometric identification — including facial recognition technology — in public places unless it is to fight “serious” crime, such as kidnappings and terrorism.

The AI Act’s lead negotiator, Brando Benifei (S&D) and almost all of his co-negotiators from other political groups in the Parliament have called for a blanket ban on facial recognition. This is in stark contrast to policies implemented in some EU member countries, who are keen to use these technologies to bolster their security apparatuses.

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