The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has warned that the European Commission’s proposed law to regulate Artificial Intelligence does not go far enough and should include a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition systems in public.

The watchdog, which supervises European bodies on data protection matters, said the Commission’s risk-based approach outlined last week has merits.

However it said: “The EDPS regrets to see that our earlier calls for a moratorium on the use of remote biometric identification systems - including facial recognition - in publicly accessible spaces have not been addressed by the Commission.

“The EDPS will continue to advocate for a stricter approach to automated recognition in public spaces of human features - such as of faces but also of gait, fingerprints, DNA, voice, keystrokes and other biometric or behavioural signals - whether these are used in a commercial or administrative context, or for law enforcement purposes.

“A stricter approach is necessary given that remote biometric identification, where AI may contribute to unprecedented developments, presents extremely high risks of deep and non-democratic intrusion into individuals’ private lives.”

The European Commission’s framework proposes to restrict applications of AI, including a clause that prevents practices which use AI to “manipulate persons” or “exploit vulnerabilities,” via “subliminal techniques beyond their consciousness,” but only when physical or psychological harm is caused.

The EC has dropped its previously stated clause to place a horizontal ban on generalised “indiscriminate surveillance” without differentiation.

Also banned under the new guidelines is the use of AI for government-conducted social scoring. The draft proposal defines and categorises high-risk AI systems by sector.

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