Articles

Digital Law Up(to)date: AI and facial recognition, towards a moratorium?

Digital Law Up(to)date: AI and facial recognition, towards a moratori

Digital Law Up(to)date: AI and facial recognition, towards a moratorium?

22.10.2021 EU law

In this blog, we briefly present developments on AI and facial recognition. Several institutions are calling for a moratorium on this technology.

 

On 6 October 2021, the European Parliament voted a resolution on artificial intelligence (AI) in criminal law and its use by police and judicial authorities in criminal matters (see here). It calls “for a moratorium on the deployment of facial recognition systems for law enforcement purposes that have the function of identification, unless strictly used for the purpose of identification of victims of crime, until the technical standards can be considered fully fundamental rights compliant, results derived are non-biased and non-discriminatory, the legal framework provides strict safeguards against misuse and strict democratic control and oversight, and there is empirical evidence of the necessity and proportionality for the deployment of such technologies”. 

The European Parliament reached this conclusion by balancing the benefits of using of these facial recognition systems against the risks that they create. Today, these risks are still too numerous and are not backed up by the adequate guarantees to eliminate or at least limit them.

The European Parliament is not the only institution to call for this moratorium. 

  • In a report dated 13 September 2021 and entitled “The right to privacy in the digital age”, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for “moratoriums on the sale and use of AI systems that carry a high risk for the enjoyment of human rights, unless and until adequate safeguards to protection human rights are in place”. She also recommended imposing “a moratorium on the use of remote biometric recognition technologies in public spaces”, for the same reason. 
  • The European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisory adopted on 21 June 2021 a joint opinion on the proposal of the European Commission (EC) to regulate AI. They called for ban on use of AI for automated recognition of human features in publicly accessible spaces. 
  • The Council of Europe (more precisely, the Consultative Committee of The Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data) published on 28 January 2021 “Guidelines on Facial Recognition”, also calling for a moratorium “pending complete analysis”. 

 

It is interesting to put these recommendations in perspective with the mentioned proposal of April 2021 for a regulation on AI of the EC (see here). The objectives of the text are, among others, to ensure that AI systems “are safe and respect existing law on fundamental rights an Union values” and to “enhance governance and effective enforcement of existing law on fundamental rights and safety requirements applicable to AI systems”. Will this instrument, if adopted, allow these moratoriums to be lifted? The future will tell.

 

By Edouard Cruysmans and Erik Valgaeren

Team

Related news

02.12.2021 NL law
Back to the future – Commission publishes roadmap for green and digital challenges

Short Reads - The Commission’s Communication “A competition policy fit for new challenges” (link) (the “Communication”) identifies key areas in which competition law and policy can support European efforts in dealing with the challenges of the green and digital transitions. The document covers all areas of competition law (antitrust, merger control, and State aid) and identifies various ways in which new and existing tools can contribute to addressing these challenges.

Read more

02.12.2021 EU law
ECJ: private enforcement in aviation sector also a national court's game

Short Reads - Recently, the ECJ ruled that national courts dealing with private enforcement cases are competent to apply EU competition law to historical behaviour in the aviation sector, regardless of public enforcement by the Commission and national competition authorities, and regardless of whether or not such authorities had authority to pursue public enforcement in the relevant period.

Read more

02.12.2021 NL law
Google Shopping: self-preferencing is a form of abuse of dominance

Short Reads - On 10 November 2021, the General Court (GC) almost entirely dismissed Google’s action against the European Commission’s Google Shopping decision. According to the European Commission (the Commission), Google illegally favoured its own comparison shopping service by displaying it more prominently in its search results than other comparison shopping services (see our July 2017 Newsletter). The Commission found that Google was abusing its dominant position and imposed a EUR 2.42 billion.

Read more

02.12.2021 NL law
Gun jumping: beware, the Commission will take action

Short Reads - The Commission has imposed interim measures on Illumina and GRAIL. These measures include the obligation to run GRAIL by independent management. By adopting interim measures in addition to opening an investigation into whether Illumina and Grail breached the standstill obligation, the Commission has made clear it will not shy away from tough action against gun jumping during an ongoing merger review. 

Read more