European Parliament votes for ban on AI-powered mass surveillance

The European Parliament has voted for a resolution that calls for the ban of AI-powered biometric mass surveillance technologies such as facial recognition across the continent.

According to Bleeping Computer, the MEPs are worried about discrimination, bias and injustice that can supposedly arise from AI-based predictive policing – with 378 voting is favour with 248 against.

Vendors of AI-based facial recognition solutions have apparently claimed that the algorithm bias plagued their systems for years and have made efforts to solve the problem through diverse data sets and machine learning optimisations. Despite this work, the discriminatory rates are still too high to be acceptable for MEPs.

The vote in the European Parliament calls for a permanent ban on the automated recognition of individuals in public spaces as well as the prohibition of predicting policing based on behavioural data.

However, the resolution makes an exception in the case of criminal suspects – but states the use of facial recognition databases should be excluded from the available tools used for justifying or proving an individual’s blameworthiness.

The MEPs have also asked for higher levels of transparency like using open-source code for the detection algorithms, enabling public scrutiny.

Peter Vitanov – the lead MEP on the issue – said, “Fundamental rights are unconditional. For the first time ever, we are calling for a moratorium on the deployment of facial recognition systems for law enforcement purposes, as the technology has proven to be ineffective and often leads to discriminatory results.

“We are clearly opposed to predictive policing based on the use of AI as well as any processing of biometric data that leads to mass surveillance. This is a huge win for all European citizens.”

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