Politico is reporting that the European Union (EU) is considering banning facial recognition in public areas for up to five years.
Facial recognition is quickly becoming the latest battleground in the fight over user privacy. Some countries, such as China, have embraced the technology and taken surveillance of citizens to an all-new level. The U.S. has waffled back and forth, rolling out facial recognition in sensitive areas—such as airports—but often making participation optional. However, the Department of Homeland Security recently made headlines with a proposal that would expand facial recognition checks at airports, making them mandatory for citizens and foreigners alike.
The EU, however, may be preparing to take the strongest stand against facial recognition and toward protecting individual privacy. According to a draft document Politico obtained, the EU is looking to expand its already rigorous privacy laws with a “future regulatory framework could go further and include a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces.”
The ban would cover facial recognition use by both public and private entities.
“This would mean that the use of facial recognition technology by private or public actors in public spaces would be prohibited for a definite period (e.g. 3-5 years) during which a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed,” adds the document.
As the debate about facial recognition continues, it will be interesting to see where the U.S. lands: whether it will emphasize protecting individual privacy like the EU, or emphasize surveillance like China.