the government plans to adopt facial recognition technology for its national police

According to “The Irish Times”, Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee announced in late May that her department was drafting legislation allowing the Garda Siochena, the country’s national police, to use facial recognition technology to analyze CCTV footage of serious crime suspects or missing persons, saying it would save him thousands of hours of work.

If there is one AI technology that is causing debate and concern, it is facial recognition. While China uses it for the repression of journalists, foreign students, the Ouigour community, “persons of concern”, Europe is trying to regulate its use in public spaces via the GDPR. Globally, most police departments use it and more and more cities are installing smart cameras. However, it raises issues: those of the use of data and algorithmic biases.

The adoption of facial recognition technology by the Garda Siochena

EU AI law when finalized is expected to ban the use of real-time facial recognition in public places except in limited circumstances. Following protests the announcement raised, including rushing through legislation, Ms McEntee said safeguards will be put in place on the use of the technology and it will be subject to data protection rules. data.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said consultations were underway with stakeholders and that Ms. McEntee would finalize the proposals in conjunction with the attorney general. and would present them to the government before the bill’s committee stage, which is expected to take place in the fall.”.

She said:

“Facial recognition will not be used for indiscriminate surveillance – it will be used in very clearly defined circumstances to help gardaí find CCTV footage and video footage. »

According to ‘The Irish Times’ sources, live use of the technology would only occur in specific circumstances, with the main aim of the legislation being to help national police deal with the masses of information that they collect as evidence from CCTV and digital recordings. In addition, law enforcement will be able to use body-worn cameras and access third-party CCTV feeds, such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (RPM).

A moratorium demanded by opponents of the draft Irish legislation

While representatives of the GRA (association representing the Garda) believe that such technology would offer a very positive advantage in the fight against serious crime, MP James Lawless, who is also Chairman of the Justice Committee of Oireachtas, the Irish legislature , warned of facial recognition issues, citing a 2019 report from the London Met which found the wrong person was identified in up to 80% of cases.

In addition, 52 experts, including academics and NGOs, wrote an open letter expressing their concerns and asking the Minister of Justice, Helen McEntee, to impose a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by the police.

They state there:

“public safety and national security can sometimes trump the right to privacy, the intrusions of police TRF surveillance are totally unnecessary and disproportionate. The use of TRF is likely to have significant chilling effects, changing the way people use public spaces and online. »

They warn about the dangerousness of this technology and add:

“Scientists agree that the technology is simply not advanced enough and does not live up to the claims of its developers. However, even if accuracy were to improve, as technology can be deployed indiscriminately, it risks exacerbating the problem of overpolicing in areas where marginalized groups live, resulting in disproportionate criminalizations, racial profiling and ethnic minorities, and derail people’s lives. »

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