A pair of lawmakers believe that the European Union is still at least a year away from implementing meaningful laws to govern the use of facial recognition. The European Commission published a draft version of such a law last April, though the European Parliament sent it back in September, stating that the original did not do enough to prevent abuses of automated identification tech.
With that in mind, the two lawmakers tasked with spearheading the bill have indicated that it will take more than a year to get everyone on board with any bill. The Commission is still in negotiations with the Parliament, and they would still need to convince individual countries to buy in once they agree on the language of the law. The negotiations could wrap up by November, while the talks with EU member states could take another 18 months.
The lawmakers went on to suggest that facial recognition would be the most contentious issue during its conversations with Parliament. Both lawmakers expressed their support for facial recognition, and believe that law enforcement should have access to the technology in criminal investigations. The original draft bans the use of real-time surveillance tech, but Parliament felt that the law was too ambiguous about where and when facial recognition could be used. The organization wants the Commission to close potential loopholes, and to be more transparent (and more explicit) about what is and is not allowed when using automated tech.
There is also some debate about the matter of enforcement. Commissioners Dragos Tudorache and Axel Voss believe that EU member states should have primary responsibility for upholding the law within their own borders, while the central Commission retains some oversight for matters that require a broader international perspective.
“There needs to be a more centralised approach, a hybrid approach where the basic implementation is at national level by national regulators and certain applications and certain impact left to the Commission, a bit like the EU competition regime,” said Tudorache.
The European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor have expressed concerns that echo those of Parliament. The Council of Europe has also asked for a ban on face-based profiling technologies.
February 22, 2022 – by Eric Weiss