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MEPs call for European AI rules to ban biometric surveillance in public

A cross-party group of 40 MEPs in the European parliament has announced on the Commission to strengthen an incoming legislative project on artificial intelligence to include an outright restriction on the purpose of applying facial identification and other means of biometric surveillance in public places.

They have also recommended EU lawmakers to proscribe automated recognition of people’s confidential characteristics( such as gender, virility, scoot/ ethnicity, health status and disability) — warns that such AI-fuelled patterns pose too great a claims probability and can fuel discrimination.

The Commission is expected to presented its proposal for a framework to regulate’ increased risk’ applications of AI next week — but a forgery of the draft spilt the coming week( via Politico ). And, as we reported earlier, this spilt drawing does not include a ban on the use of facial identification or similar biometric remote identification engineerings in public situates, despite acknowledge the strength of public concern over the issue.

” Biometric mass surveillance engineering in publicly accessible rooms is widely being criticised for wrongfully reporting large numbers of innocent citizens, systematically discriminating against under-represented groups and having a chilling effect on a free and diverse society. This is why a ban is needed ,” the MEPs write now in a letter to the Commission which they’ve also made public.

They go on to warn over the risks of discrimination through automated surmise of people’s sensitive characteristics — such as in applications like predictive policing or the indiscriminate monitoring and tracking of populations via their biometric characteristics.

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” This can lead to harms including breach rights to privacy and data protection; inhibiting free speech; building it harder to expose corruption; and have a chilling effect on everyone’s autonomy, prestige and self-expression- which in particular can seriously harm LGBTQI+ communities, people of colour, and other discriminated-against groups ,” the MEPs write, calling on the Commission to amend the AI proposal to outlaw the practice in order to protect EU citizens’ rights and the rights of communities who faced a raised danger of discrimination( and therefore heightened danger from discriminatory implements supercharged with AI ).

” The AI proposal offers a welcome opportunity to prohibit the automated recognition of gender, virility, hasten/ ethnicity, disability and any other sensitive and protected characteristics ,” they add.

The leaked sketch of the Commission’s proposal does undertake indiscriminate mass surveillance — proposing to prohibit this practice, as well as outlawing general purpose social recognition scoring systems.

However the MEPs want lawmakers to go further — urging over flaws in the wording of the leaked sketch and advocating changes to ensure that the proposed ban masks” all untargeted and indiscriminate mass surveillance , no matter how many parties are exposed to the system “.

They also conveys horrify at the proposal having an exemption on the prohibition on mass surveillance for public authorities( or commercial-grade entities working for them) — warning that this risks deviating from existing EU legislation and from renderings by the bloc’s top courtroom in this area.

” We strongly protest the proposed second clause of this Article 4 which would exempt public authorities and even private performers behaving on their behalf’ in order to safeguard public security ‘,” they write.” Public security is precisely what mass surveillance is being apologized with, it is where it is practically relevant, and it is where the courts have consistently cancelled legislation on indiscriminate amount processing of personal data( e.g. the Data Retention Directive ). This carve-out needs to be deleted .”

” This second section could even be interpreted to deviate from other secondary legislative measures which the Court of Justice has so far interpreted to ban mass surveillance ,” the committee continues.” The proposed AI regulation needs to make it very clear that its requirements apply in addition to those resulting from the data protection acquis and do not replace it. There is no such clarity in the disclosed enlist .”

The Commission has been contacted for provide comments on the MEPs’ requests but is unlikely to do so ahead of the official reveal of the draft AI regulation — which is expected around the middle of next week.

It remains to be seen whether the AI proposal will experience any substantial amendments between now and then. But MEPs have burnt a speedy alerting shot that fundamental rights must and will be a key boast of the co-legislative debate — and that lawmakers’ claims of a framework to ensure’ trustworthy’ AI won’t look plausible if the rules don’t tackle unethical engineerings thought on.

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