Privacy Watchdogs: Ban Cameras That Recognize Faces

Smart cameras that scan the faces of passers-by and identify people in a split second should be banned. Several European privacy watchdogs are calling for this.


“Every camera with facial recognition that we put up on the street, in the park, on the train or on the bus is one step closer to a surveillance company,” said Aleid Wolfsen, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

The risks of facial recognition are too great, according to the regulators. According to Wolfsen, such systems can lead to a society in which you cannot escape the prying eyes of systems that keep an eye on you and recognize you so that they can follow you all day long. You step out the door and know: I am constantly being watched. That is oppressive, makes people feel less free to be themselves.’

The authorities have the same objections to systems that have to recognize voices, movements or emotions. They also want a ban on artificial intelligence that can be used to categorize people by gender, orientation or ethnic background. This can lead to discrimination.

The watchdogs are reacting to the plans of the European Commission. Among other things, Brussels wants to make it possible to use artificial intelligence in the fight against crime. Those plans are not ready yet. Moreover, the Member States and the European Parliament have yet to consider it.

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