Five year ban on facial recognition could be coming to the EU

There could be a five-year ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public areas within the European Union. EU authorities are considering the move to give them time to implement appropriate regulations on the software and this fast growing technology.

Facial recognition technology airport.
Institutions have been investing heavily in facial recognition technology to help with their processes. Photo: Delta News Hub via Flickr

Protecting privacy

Sky News reports that the ban would last at least three years but could reach up to five. Although there would be exceptions in certain cases such as for research and security reasons.

The proposals have been laid out in an 18-page white paper. The document. The core reasoning for the ban is to help protect the privacy rights of European citizens.

“Building on these existing provisions, the future regulatory framework could go further and include a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces,” the document said, as reported by Sky News.

The paper continues to state that during the length of the ban, a suitable method to assess the impact of the technology will be drawn. Furthermore, possible risk management measures will be looked at.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner is due to present the proposals next month. If her plans are approved, several businesses may have to reconsider their options over the next half a decade.

National interest

Nonetheless, areas where facial recognition technology has been used for national security purposes such as airports, are not expected to be severely impacted.

Facial recognition
Airports and airlines have been reporting a significant reduction in boarding and passport checks since introduction facial recognition technology. Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Flickr

This software has been helping with border checks across the European Union over the last few years. Additionally, airlines have been increasing their investment in the tech to help reduce boarding times. They have also been trialing several types of modern tech to improve the experience of their passengers.

London’s Metropolitan Police has also trialed the use of live facial recognition technology. It has conducted 10 tests, which scan the faces of the public against a database of people of interest. However, it has to go through an extensive upgrade to ensure that is legal no matter what the EU’s stance is.

Long-term planning

Altogether, this could be a positive move in the long run. Facial recognition technology is advancing at a rapid rate and lawmakers are finding it hard to legislate.

Black and white photo of mobile phone users outside in China
Governments in countries such as China have been seeing great progress in the implementation of facial recognition, biometric, and automation technology. Photo: Gauthier DELECROIX – 郭天

Fair legislation needs to be made and if a decision is made abruptly, it could negatively impact the progress of the technology.

Ultimately, the safety of the citizens in countries within the EU needs to be considered first and foremost before any decision is made. However, the region may fall behind other areas that are quickly adapting to the software’s evolution.

What are your thoughts on the European Union’s plan to temporarily ban the use of facial recognition technology in public? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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