Today, the Greens/European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament presented a new study on the impact of mass biometric surveillance, such as facial recognition software, on human rights in Europe. Citing alarming cases from France, the UK and Romania, the study clearly shows the risks and dangers of these technologies.
It is the first study to comprehensively analyse the impact of facial and behavioural recognition software on human rights in liberal democracies from a democratic policy perspective, painting a dystopian picture.
Also on Friday, 4 February, the Winter Olympics will open in Beijing, China, against a backdrop of serious human rights concerns. However, in the run-up to the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris, organisers in Europe are also looking into the possibility of increasing biometric mass surveillance at sporting events. In doing so, politicians would deliberately accept the loss of privacy, limitation on freedom of expression, and the division of society and discrimination.
Patrick Breyer, Pirate MEP and leader of his parliamentary group‘s campaign for a ban on biometric mass surveillance, comments:
“France, which currently holds the EU Presidency and is the host country for the 2024 Olympic Games, is pioneering this surveillance technology in Europe. There is a real danger that biometric mass surveillance will be established in Europe via the Olympic Games. Our study is therefore perfectly suited to prove wrong the image of accuracy that this technology has and counter its creeping normalisation.
We urgently need a ban on these error-prone surveillance technologies if we do not want to end up with a Chinese-style EU. With error rates of up to 99 percent, ineffective facial surveillance technology has nothing to do with targeted searches. The same goes for biometric behavioural surveillance and so-called “video lie detectors.”
The use of biometric surveillance technologies is the subject of intense debate within the EU. While the EU Parliament called for a ban on such technology in October 2021, the EU Commission as well as conservative voices are in favour of it. Civil society campaigns such as the citizens initiative ‘Reclaim Your Face’, oppose the use of facial and behavioural recognition software.