[Tribune] Wikimedia France calls for ban on biometric surveillance in public spaces

In a column published by NextInpact, Wikimedia France’s advocacy officer Nafsica Papanicolau a ” Clear and simple prohibition ব্যবহার Use of biometric identification systems in public spaces. A wish has been expressed in the light of future European regulations on AI.

Authoritarian technical surveillance or fundamental rights? Decisions should be easy. In Europe and globally, the use of biometric identification systems (BIS), such as facial recognition in public spaces, represents one of the biggest threats to fundamental rights and democracy we have never seen.

Remote use of these systems destroys anonymity in the public and endangers our privacy, protection of personal data, freedom of expression, assembly and the right to assembly (which leads to criminalization of protests and creates a barrier effect), equality and unexpected-inequality.

Without a clear and simple restriction on the use of this new technology in public spaces, where we exercise our rights and where we gather as citizens will be transformed into public surveillance sites where all of us will be treated as suspects.

Non-imaginary loss

The Chinese government has deliberately persecuted Uyghur Muslims through verbal recognition. In Russia, Serbia and Hong Kong, pro-democracy protesters and political opponents have been suppressed or targeted – and in some cases, only out of fear of use – by SIBs in public spaces.

There is already significant evidence that French and European residents have been systematically subjected to mass biometric surveillance practices. These are cases where LGBTQ + football fans, schoolchildren, patrons, shopkeepers or patrons of bars and places of worship are being targeted and the damage is real and extensive.

Even some of the largest companies providing biometric surveillance systems, such as Microsoft, IBM and Amazon, have voluntarily suspended suspensions because of the potential risks and risks to these systems. In the same vein, Facebook has deleted the database containing pictures of his face.

The need for control has been felt across Europe, and some member states have already taken the lead: Italy was the first country to introduce a moratorium on face recognition in public. Germany’s ruling coalition has called for a Europe-wide moratorium on public surveillance using biometric data, and Portugal has dropped a bill that would lead to some legalization of the practice. And the Belgian parliament is considering a moratorium on biometric surveillance.

To ban remote biometric surveillance in public spaces

The draft European Regulation on AI is an explicit tool that the European Parliament can use to create a coherent legal framework for the protection of data and individual liberty. The EU is a pioneer in AI regulations, the rules made in Europe will affect the practice and law of the world.

Will the European Union allow mass surveillance technology that could be a threat to our independence?

To protect fundamental rights, AI law must prohibit all remote use (i.e., extensive surveillance) of biometric identification (RBI) in publicly accessible places:

  • Extending the scope of the ban to all private actors as well as public actors;
  • Ensuring that all use of biometric identification (real-time or a posterior) in publicly accessible places is prohibited;
  • Remove exceptions to sanctions, which ensure an independent human rights assessment that does not comply with existing European fundamental rights standards;
  • Elimination of discriminatory or manipulative forms of biometric classification;
  • Properly address the risk of emotion recognition.

EU aims to create “ The ecosystem of faith and excellence For AI, and to establish itself as a world leader in trusted and ethical AI. By controlling the use of biometric data, we have the potential to shape AI in a way that serves the public, and not a technology imposed on the public.

This is why we must ensure that the IMCO and the LIBE Committee’s amendments prohibit extensive surveillance using biometric data.

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