Italy bans facial recognition technology except to fight crime

Italy banned the use of facial recognition and “smart glasses” on Monday as its Data Protection Agency reprimanded two municipalities experimenting with the technologies.

Facial recognition systems using biometric data will not be allowed until a specific law is passed, or at least until the end of next year, the privacy watchdog said.

The exception is when these technologies play a role in judicial investigations or in the fight against crime.

“The moratorium arises from the need to regulate the eligibility requirements, conditions and guarantees related to facial recognition, complying with the principle of proportionality,” the agency said in a statement.

Under European Union and Italian law, the processing of personal data by public bodies using video devices is generally permitted for reasons of public interest and when linked to the activity of public authorities, he added.

However, municipalities that want to use them have to make “urban security pacts” with representatives of the Central Government, he added.

The agency was reacting to measures taken in the southern Italian city of Lecce, where authorities said they would begin using facial recognition-based technology.

The municipality was ordered to provide a description of the systems adopted, their purpose and legal basis, as well as a list of the databases accessed by their surveillance devices.

The privacy watchdog also headed to the Tuscan city of Arezzo, where the local police were supposed to be equipped with infrared super glasses that can recognize car number plates.

© Thomson Reuters 2022.

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