Italy bans facial recognition tech, restricts use to fighting crime

Italy bans facial recognition tech, restricts use to fighting crime

The watchdog has ordered the Lecce municipality to submit information about the systems used along with their functions and legality.

Use of facial recognition systems, a modern way of security, was banned in Italy on Monday. The country's privacy watchdog, Data Protection Agency, chided two municipalities for experimenting with facial recognition systems and ‘smart glasses'. It ordered prohibition of its use until a specific law is adopted which it said may happen only at the end of next year, reported Euro News.

Facial recognition systems help confirm a user's identity whereas smart glasses can prove to be helpful for visually impaired people as they can benefit from AI embedded in it. These devices can extract different kinds of information from images and then speak it back to users.

Italy bans facial recognition tech, restricts use to fighting crime
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However, there is an exception to the imposed ban. If the use of the tech is required to support judicial investigations or fight crimes, these biometric data-based systems can still be used. The agency in a statement said, “The moratorium arises from the need to regulate eligibility requirements, conditions and guarantees relating to facial recognition, in compliance with the principle of proportionality."

Expressing concerns over the security of these systems, the watchdog highlighted that under EU and Italian law, the processing of personal data by public bodies using video devices is generally allowed on only public interest grounds. It further suggested if municipalities want to use these systems, they will have to meet “urban security pacts” with central government representatives.

Southern Italian city of Lecce and Tuscan city of Arezzo are the two municipalities under radar for the planned use of these technologies. As per the authorities, Lecce municipality would begin using a technology based on facial recognition whereas for Tuscan they noted that the local police were due to be equipped with infrared super glasses that can recognise car number plates.

The watchdog has ordered the Lecce municipality to submit information about the systems used along with their functions and legality. Another set of information sought by the watchdog is a list of databases accessed by its monitoring devices.

Recently, the facial recognition systems found yet another use in Australia in the form of a solution provider to tackle the issue of gambling addiction. At eastern Australia’s Warilla Hotel facial recognition software are used to identify addicts who have been asked to be barred from betting sites. Supporters say it will help curb gambling problem in a country where the addiction affects about 1 percent of the population and annual losses run to billions of dollars, reported Al Jazeera.

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