reconocimiento facial

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Facial recognition technology continues to cause great controversy

Almost one year after we discussed the moratorium proposals for the use of facial recognition by the different authorities (which you can find on this link), we bring you the progress in this area over recent months.

On May 10, 40 groups of lawyers in the US sent an open letter demanding a permanent ban on the use of Amazon’s facial recognition program (“Rekognition”) by the authorities.

Just a few days later, on May 18, Amazon announced it was extending the moratorium that started last year, which we discussed in this blog, indefinitely “until further notice,” joining competitors such as IBM and Microsoft.

In the meantime, they continue to wait for a federal regulation that is not forthcoming, despite the numerous draft bills presented in recent months (e.g., the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act , the Advancing Facial Recognition Act, the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act, the Ethical Use of Facial Recognition Act 2020 and the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act 2020), requiring the different states or even cities to initiate processes to publish their own laws or industry ordinances (e.g., Maryland, Alabama, Washington and Portland, Oregon have done).

On April 21, the European Commission published the proposed regulatory legal framework on artificial intelligence, whose main points were summarized in this blog post.

Although article 5 (1) (d) of this proposal prohibits using remote biometric identification systems in real time in public spaces for law enforcement purposes or to check compliance with the regulations, this prohibition is waived in cases where this use is “strictly necessary” to find potential victims (e.g., lost children), preventing an imminent and material threat to life or physical safety or a terrorist attack, or to detain, locate, identify and prosecute a criminal or a suspect in a crime subject to a prison sentence or detention order of at least three years.

In those cases, these systems can be used with prior court or administrative authorization, and, in cases of clear urgency, that authorization can be requested during or after using these technologies.

Because of the exceptions to the ban on using these technologies for law enforcement purposes, particularly since it leaves the door open to using them without an approved  court or administrative authorization, it is considered a “soft” ban and is not exempt from criticism. Although he welcomes the proposed regulation, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Wojciech Wiewiórowski, has already stated that this proposed regulation does not appropriately protect people’s civil liberties and has called for stronger measures and a complete ban on the authorities using these technologies in public spaces. 

Until one of these laws or regulations is approved, it seems that self-regulation is proving the most effective method. We will keep you informed about how this issue unfolds in this blog. 

Author: Adaya Esteban

This post is also available in: Español

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adaya.esteban@cuatrecasas.com