European Union Considering a Complete Ban on Facial Recognition Technology

Written by: Gabriel Lopez, Esq. 

Earlier this month, European Union (EU) lawmakers began political debate on the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act).

The legislation focuses on regulating the use of artificial intelligence in society. The AI Act seeks to introduce legal obligations commensurate with the potential harm, societal or otherwise, that may come with artificial intelligence technology.

As it relates to facial recognition technology, the draft legislation initially proposed a ban on real-time facial recognition systems. The initial draft included exemptions to the real-time ban for law enforcement that would allow government agents to use the technology when searching for kidnapping victims; identifying suspects of crime; and preventing threats to critical infrastructure, such as terrorist attacks.

However, the debate has raged on and opponents of the technology have suggested that facial recognition in any capacity is a danger to the civil liberties of European citizens – a position that has gained traction with EU legislators. The latest draft of the AI Act now broadly forbids the use of all facial recognition technology, including real-time and after-the-fact recognition by private and public entities.

While debate continues, a final draft of the legislation is expected before the end of 2022.

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