EDPS’ call for a moratorium on Facial Recognition in public places

On 1st of July, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Wojciech Wiewiórowski, called for a moratorium on facial recognition in public places.

The current European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Wojciech Wiewiórowski, is the European Union’s independent data protection authority, which is responsible for overseeing data protection compliance by EU institutions and agencies.

This warning call from the EDPS came shortly after the public consultation conducted by the European Commission on the White Paper on Artificial intelligence. In this framework the European Commission is currently examining feedbacks submitted by more than 1,200 participants. In this regard, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Digital policy, Margrethe Vestager stressed that the participants expressed their fear for their rights in case of inappropriate use of AI. She stressed out that “most of these contributors agreed that AI, if not properly framed, might compromise our fundamental rights or safety.”

Wojciech Wiewiórowski explained that he “will be trying to convince the Commission that such a moratorium might be useful in many situations where the technologies are not mature enough or not discussed enough to open their use in public spaces”. He also recalled the role of his institution by saying that the EDPS will “very closely observe the way that European Union institutions are using these technologies.”

Moreover, he expressed his personal position regarding facial recognition:

 “At least twice I have already been in situations where I was tracked this way and I found out about it. I treated it as a big invasion into my privacy and even as a big invasion into my intimacy.”

This call for a moratorium comes a few months after it was reported that the European Commission was initially considering as one possible option a moratorium in some uses of facial recognition. The European Data Protection Board also published its guidelines on the processing of personal data through video devices – which includes the facial recognition’s problem, amid fears that some future applications could be in breach of the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR).




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