European Parliament passes non-binding resolution to ban facial recognition

In the midst of supporting a facial recognition ban for law enforcement, the European Commission is reportedly preparing to charge Apple for acting anticompetitively with its NFC block.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

The European Parliament has voted in favour to a resolution banning law enforcement from using facial recognition systems.

In explaining the resolution, the European Parliament said the use of AI by law enforcement currently poses various risks spanning opaque decision-making, discrimination, privacy intrusion, challenges to the protection of personal data, human dignity, and the freedom of expression and information.

"These potential risks are aggravated in the sector of law enforcement and criminal justice, as they may affect the presumption of innocence, the fundamental rights to liberty and security of the individual and to an effective remedy and fair trial," the European Parliament said.

In addition to calling for facial recognition to be banned for law enforcement purposes, the resolution has called for the permanent prohibition of law enforcement using automated analysis of other human features too, such as gait, fingerprints, DNA, voice, and other biometric and behavioural signals.

By passing the resolution, the European Parliament explicitly expressed concern about facial recognition services such as Clearview AI, which has a database of more than three billion pictures that have been collected illegally from social networks and other parts of the internet.

The final vote passed 36 to 24, with six abstaining from the vote.

While the Parliament has passed the resolution, it is not legally binding. Although, it comes in the midst of the European Union working on new AI rules that would apply to both the public and private sectors.

At the same time, the European Commission (EC) is reportedly preparing to release an antitrust charge against Apple regarding its Apple Pay system, according to Reuters.

The charge is reportedly for Apple only allowing the NFC chip within iPhones and iPads to be used for Apple Pay. The EC is reportedly concerned about how Apple has refused competitors from accessing the payment system.

The EC has been investigating whether Apple's integration of Apple Pay into apps and websites violates EU competition rules since last June.

With Europe preparing to ramp up scrutiny against Apple for not opening up access to the NFC chips in its devices, this is not the first time Apple has been in such a position. Three years ago, Apple won its fight against an Australian banking consortium when the country's competition watchdog sided with Apple in allowing it to block Australian banks from accessing NFC on its devices. Most of the banks then caved and signed up for Apple Pay.

Since then, Australian banks have continued to complain about the lack of access to Apple's NFC antenna, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Matt Comyn in July accusing the tech giant of leaning on its market power to compel the banks into paying fees to use Apple Pay.

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