Facial recognition affects public safety projects in Malta, South Africa and NYC

Maltese MEPs from the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) met on Thursday to discuss the European Commission’s latest proposal for new rules for artificial intelligence and facial recognition.

Malta Today said the proposal could profoundly affect the implementation of the country’s Safe City project, a planned initiative to install a national CCTV system for facial recognition.

Malta was not represented by a MEP on the committee discussing the Commission’s new proposal.

In addition, the EU Commissioner had already criticized Malta’s Safe City project in 2019 before the new regulations were unveiled, stating that the initiative should at least be subjected to strict scrutiny. The point was confirmed earlier this week by Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager of the European Commission, who fully condemned the mass surveillance.

“Therefore, in our proposal, the use of biometric identification in public places is strictly prohibited,” she said.

“We propose very narrow exemptions that are strictly defined, limited and regulated. These are extreme cases, such as when police authorities need them in search of a missing child or an imminent terrorist threat, ”added Vestager.

AfriForum wants data protection guarantees for the road safety project in South Africa

South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is going in a different direction than the EU and is considering using machine learning and facial recognition for road safety applications in the country, BusinessTech reports.

Various stakeholders and research institutes will work together under the direction of Sanral’s Technical Innovation Hub (TIH).

Machine learning and object classification are used to identify vehicles, pedestrians, animals and cyclists.

The system will consequently learn and improve these classifications in order to evaluate different types of traffic and activate the appropriate response through the Road Incident Management System (RIMS).

AfriForum seeks assurances that facial recognition will not be used and that the system will not invade privacy, writes The Citizen, expressing concern about Sanral’s reference to Chinese government projects as an example of successful machine learning implementation.

The group is not opposed to the use of technology for road safety in general, but is concerned about the implications for constitutional rights.

Sanral recognized potential human rights risks with ML technologies but said safeguards are in place.

“Some of the ways you can minimize these potential privacy risks are through strict security and access controls. Data can also be anonymous at the time of collection, ”said a statement from the agency.

“After all, it’s not about observing individuals, but rather identifying trends and incidents in order to enable appropriate responses and interventions.”

The Chinese government is affiliated with the facial recognition company in the planned NYC MTA test

The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) suspended a plan to test cameras in subway cars after it was discovered that technology provider Suzhou Huaqi Intelligent Technology has ties to the Chinese government, according to the New York Daily News. The company lists facial recognition among its specialties in corporate documents.

The planned trial involved four cameras attached to each car on a four-car train on the G-line for a year to assess their impact on safety. However, one official said the cameras did not have biometric data. The process cost the MTA nothing, but when Messing became aware of the technology provider’s property, they stepped in.

The MTA has set a new guideline according to which all newly purchased subway cars must be equipped with CCTV cameras.

Article topics

AI | biometric identification | Biometrics | cctv | China | Face recognition | Malta | Privacy | smart cities | South Africa | Transport | Video surveillance

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