Italy’s data protection authority has reprimanded two municipalities experimenting with “smart glasses” and facial recognition technology.
Italy has banned the use of facial recognition technology and similar biometric systems until further notice a particular law is adopted or at least by the end of next year.
“The moratorium stems from the need to regulate eligibility requirements, conditions and guarantees related to facial recognition, while respecting the principle of proportionality,” the agency said in a statement.
Face recognition systems can extract various types of information from images and then send that data back to the user. Under European Union and Italian law, the processing of personal data by public bodies using video devices is generally lawful for reasons of public interest and linked to the activity of public authorities, the Italian regulator said.
However, municipalities that want to use them must enter into “urban security pacts” with central government officials, she added.
The exception is when such technologies play a role in judicial investigations or the fight against crime.
Facial recognition technologies are increasingly being used by law enforcement agencies around the world to fight crime. The Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police are some of the forces doing this It is known to use these technologies.
However, this use of facial recognition technology has led to civil law challenges and condemnations from human rights groups who argue that the technology is often wrong in cases of identity and also inherently wrong biased.
The Italian agency’s decision comes in response to measures in the southern Italian city of Lecce, where authorities said they would begin deploying facial recognition-based technology the Tuscan city of Arezzo, where local police should be equipped with infrared super goggles that can recognize car number plates.
The municipality of Lecce has been asked to provide a description of the systems put in place, their purpose and legal basis, as well as a list of the databases accessed by their surveillance devices, the watchdog said.
Earlier this year, an independent review of UK legislation, commissioned by the Ada Lovelace Foundation, called on the government to pass legislation regulating biometric technologies and ensuring their ethical use.
Last month, tThe state of Texas filed a lawsuit against tech giant Google over the company’s collection and use of biometric data in violation of the state’s law on the collection or use of biometric identifiers. Face recognition company Clearview AI was also rejected by several nations and was recently ordered to erase all data relating to UK citizens.
September 2022 in the UK, 14 campaign groups wrote an open letter to Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, calling for an end to the use of facial recognition technology by police forces and calling out the technology “invasive, inaccurate and wasteful”.
In 2021, the Council of Europe, a human rights and democracy organization from 47 countries, published a set of guidelines [PDF] for governments, legislators, vendors and companies to present their proposals for the use of facial recognition technologies.
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