European Parliament calls for a ban on facial recognition in public spaces

MEPs also said private facial recognition databases like Clearview AI should be prohibited.

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The European Parliament has called on lawmakers in the European Union to ban automated facial recognition in public spaces and to enforce strict safeguards for police use of artificial intelligence. MEPs voted in favor of the non-binding resolution by 377-248, with 62 abstentions.

The MEPs said citizens should only be monitored when they're suspected of a crime. They cited concerns over algorithmic bias in AI and argued that both human supervision and legal protections are required to avoid discrimination. The politicians noted there's evidence suggesting AI-based identification systems misidentify minority ethnic groups, LGBTI+ people, seniors and women at higher rates. As a result, the MEPs say, "algorithms should be transparent, traceable and sufficiently documented," with open-source options being used wherever possible.

The resolution states that "those subject to AI-powered systems must have recourse to remedy." Under EU law, according to the document, "a person has the right not to be subjected to a decision which produces legal effects concerning them or significantly affects them and is based solely on automated data processing."

In addition, the MEPs called on EU officials to ban private facial recognition databases (some law enforcement agencies in Europe are using Clearview AI's one), as well as "predictive policing based on behavioral data." They also urged the European Commission to prohibit social scoring or social credit systems and said the iBorderCtrl virtual border agent and other border control systems that use automated recognition should be shut down.

The approval of the resolution follows similar calls by EU data protection regulators this summer. The European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor said the EC should ban AI systems from using biometrics to categorize people "into clusters based on ethnicity, gender, political or sexual orientation," or any other classifications that could lead to discrimination.

In April, the EC proposed a bill called the Artificial Intelligence Act, which would introduce a sweeping regulatory framework for AI. Among the measures are a ban on remote biometric identification (such as facial recognition) in public spaces unless it's being used to tackle major crimes, including terrorism and kidnappings.