Today, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) adopted a report on the use of artificial intelligence by police and judiciary by 36 votes to 24 with 6 abstentions. The successful compromise text calls, among other things, on the Commission „to implement, through legislative and non-legislative means, and if necessary infringement proceedings, a ban on any processing of biometric data, including facial images, for law enforcement purposes that leads to mass surveillance in publicly accessible spaces” (paragraph 15b). MEPs also call on the Commission to stop funding biometric research that is likely to lead to indiscriminate mass surveillance in public spaces. For example, the iBorderCtrl project (an “intelligent lie detection system” for travellers entering the EU) is being criticised.
Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), who was involved in the drafting of the report as shadow rapporteur for the Greens/EFA group, comments:
“This report is a milestone in the fight against biometric mass surveillance in Europe, because for the first time a majority in the European Parliament wants to put an end to this total form of surveillance. Biometric and mass surveillance and behavioral prediction technology in our public spaces undermines our freedoms and threatens our open society. We cannot allow the discrimination of certain groups of people and the false incrimination of countless individuals by these technologies. The European Data Protection Supervisor has also recently spoken out in favour of a ban on biometric mass surveillance.
I call on all citizens to put pressure on the EU by signing the European Citizens’ Initiative #ReclaimYourFace!“
Respect for fundamental rights must come first
According to a representative survey conducted by YouGov in March in 10 EU countries, a majority of Europeans opposes biometric mass surveillance in public spaces. However, in the pending legislative process on regulating “artificial intelligence”, the EU Commission is not proposing a ban, which has been widely criticised.