Although it's still in its infancy, facial recognition technology is already a highly controversial subject. While some of the earliest applications have proven successful, and some have even resulted in the capture of wanted criminals around the globe, most facial recognition technologies are riddled with inconsistencies.
Because of this, many watchdog groups are already pushing for stricter regulations regarding the use of facial recognition technology – and some governments are even joining in.
Europe Considering Stricter Regulations
Facial recognition technology is already in place in certain areas of Europe. While there have been a number of public tests – which were announced and advertised – there were also some highly secretive tests, too. Although these secretive projects were performed on Europe's general populace, they were done so without their knowledge or consent.
It's easy to see why some of these applications would strike European citizens the wrong way, and it's even easier to understand why the European Commission is now considering widespread reforms to current facial recognition regulations.
Europe has been in the news a lot lately, primarily for the recent implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, that governs the usage of personal information. Any regulations regarding facial recognition technology would likely include similar rules, standards, and expectations.
A Collaborative Effort
The European Commission hasn't commented publicly on the matter, but they've already setup a high-level group of experts to oversee the initial discussions on the topic. Specific individuals within the group haven't been named, but they did release a statement that reads:
"Individuals should not be subject to unjustified personal, physical or mental tracking or identification, profiling and nudging through AI powered methods of biometric recognition such as: emotional tracking, empathic media, DNA, iris, and behavioral identification, affect recognition, voice, and facial recognition and the recognition of micro-expressions."
It's easy to see whose side they're on. The unnamed group added onto their statement by clarifying that any new application of facial recognition "must be clearly warranted in existing law" and, as a result, would be left up to the consent of the data subject in each case.
More specifically, the group hopes to reclassify all facial recognition data as biometric data, which is already listed as "sensitive data" within the GDPR. This would provide clear and serious repercussions for any organization – including law enforcement – that violates these regulations.
But their efforts, if successful, could have a much bigger impact than originally anticipated. Any changes to the GDPR or European law regarding facial recognition will likely affect social media sites like Facebook and their technology that automatically tags the faces of friends and family when uploading new photos and videos.
Facebook recently reintroduced their automatic scanning algorithms following a ban last year. Under the new system, users must give consent in order to be automatically tagged in the photos of their own friends and family members.
As you can see, facial recognition is a highly controversial and complex subject. While there are certainly some benefits to be gained, especially in terms of law enforcement, the technology is currently too flawed to be of any significant value.
EU To Limit Facial Recognition Technology
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