#Privacy: EU mulls a five year ban on facial recognition tech

The European Union is considering temporarily banning the use of facial recognition technology in public areas for up to five years. 

In an 18-page document seen by the BBC, The European Commission has outlined its plans to introduce new rules that will bolster existing regulations surrounding data and privacy rights. 

“Building on these existing provisions, the future regulatory framework could go further and include a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces,” the document read. 

The ban would last between three and five years, and probit the use of facial recognition technology in public areas such as sport stadiums, shopping centres and train stations. 

During the ban, “a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed.”

The document noted that exceptions can be made for security projects and for research and development. 

The European Commission has also suggested imposing additional obligations on both the developers and users of artificial intelligence, and that EU countries should appoint authorities to monitor the new rules. 

The proposal comes amidst calls from campaigners and politicians in the UK urging the police to stop using live facial recognition technology for public surveillance without telling the public. 

Just last week, the South Wales Police announced that it was deploying facial recognition technology at the recent Cardiff City v Swansea City football match, in order to identify those who had been issued with banning orders and may have attempted to attend the game. 

In August last year, the Kings Cross estate was under scrutiny after its owners revealed that they were utilising facial recognition technology without telling the public, claiming it was being used to “ensure public safety.”

A commission spokesman told The Guardian: “To maximise the benefits and address the challenges of artificial intelligence, Europe has to act as one and will define its own way, a human way. Technology has to serve a purpose and the people. Trust and security of EU citizens will therefore be at the centre of the EU’s strategy.”


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