According to The Irish Times, Irish Justice Minister Helen McKenzie announced in late May that her department was drafting legislation that would allow the country’s national police, the Garda Siochena, to use face recognition technology to analyze CCTV footage of suspected or missing criminals. He said it would save thousands of hours of work.
If there is one AI technology that causes discussion and concern, it is face recognition. While China uses it to suppress journalists, foreign students, the Uyghur community and “concerned people”, Europe seeks to restrict its use in public places through the GDPR. Globally, most police departments use it, and more and more cities are installing smart cameras. However, this raises issues: data usage and algorithm bias.
Garda Siochena has adopted facial recognition technology
When the EU AI Act is finalized, it is hoped that the use of live face recognition in public places will be banned except in limited circumstances. Ms McEntee said the announcement, which included rushing through legislation, would lead to security measures in place for the use of the technology, which would be subject to data protection laws.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said consultations were ongoing with those concerned and that Miss McKenzie’s recommendations would be finalized. They will be submitted to the government before the committee stage of the bill, which is expected to take place in the fall..
“Face recognition will not be used for indiscriminate surveillance – it will be used in well-defined situations to assist the Garda കണ്ടെത്താൻ in locating CCTV footage and video footage. ⁇
According to The Irish Times sources, the main purpose of the legislation is to enable the National Police to deal with the vast amount of information collected from CCTV and digital recordings, as live coverage of technology can only occur under certain circumstances. Additionally, law enforcement can use body-worn cameras and access third-party CCTV feeds such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (RPM).
Moratorium demanded by opponents of draft Irish legislation
Representatives of the GRA (the association representing the Garda) believe that such technology could be very effective in the fight against serious crime, but warned against the face of MP James Loles, chairman of the Justice Committee of the Irish Legislature Oireachtas. Identification problems, citing a 2019 report from the London Met that identified the wrong person in 80% of cases.
In addition, 52 experts, including academics and NGOs, wrote an open letter expressing their concerns and asking Justice Minister Helen McKenzie to impose a moratorium on the use of police face recognition technology.
They state there:
“Public security and national security can sometimes undermine the right to privacy, and encroachments on police TRF surveillance are utterly unnecessary and disproportionate. The use of TRF has the potential to have significant freezing effects that change the way people use public spaces and online. ⁇
They warn of the dangers of this technology and add:
“Scientists agree that technology is not advanced enough and does not live up to the claims of its developers. However, as technology can be deployed indiscriminately, even if accuracy is to be improved, the problem of over-policing in areas inhabited by marginalized groups can be exacerbated, leading to disproportionate criminalization, racial profiling and ethnic minorities and disrupting people’s lives. ⁇
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