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EU considers banning facial recognition tech in public for 5 years

A VeriScan facial recognition tablet takes a photo of a passenger boarding an international flight during a press event announcing ithe next phase of CBP's use of biometrics at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., Sept. 6, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/ Flickr)
January 17, 2020

The European Union is considering banning facial recognition in public areas for three to five years to further advance the technology so it’s less likely to violate privacy, a new report shows.

The ban would allow time for the technology to develop to a point where it wouldn’t violate personal privacy, as well as ensure accuracy, according to an 18-page white paper, Reuters reported.

“Building on these existing provisions, the future regulatory framework could go further and include a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces,” the EU document said.

The three- to five-year ban would allow time to develop “a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed,” Fast Company reports.

The white paper also suggests that authorities should appoint a monitoring system as a check on inevitable regulations on facial recognition technology.

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Margrethe Vestager, the European Union digital and antitrust chief, is expected to present a proposal next month regarding a decision to go further.

The plan comes at a pinnacle time in which global forces including China and the United States are mulling over to what extent to allow the technology in public.

China has an infamous facial recognition program wherein the technology is in use nearly everywhere in public. The European Union appears to be backing away from the technology, claiming it promotes racism, as a new study reported by Fast Company showed.

The United States government is embracing the technology at ports of entry for security purposes, but some groups claim it would be a violation of citizens’ rights.

In December, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was set to propose a regulation that would require all travelers entering and exiting the country to be photographed, sparking outrage from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Travelers, including U.S. citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union.

President Donald Trump’s administration says that the face scan requirement would help prevent the usage of fraudulent travel documents to illegally enter the country, adding that it could also help aid in the identification of criminals or terrorists.

Major commercial airlines have already begun their own facial recognition and other biometric scanning options for their customers.

American Airlines and Delta are using facial recognition at select terminals around the country and plan to expand their operations, as part of a plan to make airport transportation faster and more secure.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, which is a part of the Department of Defense, has also tested facial recognition to confirm the identities of its passengers at airports around the country.