March 15th, 2022
At a Press Conference on Tuesday, ADPD – The Green Party spokespersons warned that facial recognition technology may threaten fundamental human rights if not harnessed properly. The party is also concerned about the lack of information about the agreement the government has signed with Chinese company Huawei
ADPD – The Green Party candidate for the 9th and 10th District Mina Tolu explained that although the primary aim of facial recognition technology was that of crime prevention, this may be abused of to follow the movement of persons and therefore violates the right to privacy.
“We do not want to have our daily lives followed at every step. As has been acknowledged that this is not acceptable online, likewise we do not want it to happen in our physical activities”, stated Mina Tolu.
Although this technology is still in its early development, it can be further developed not just for identification purposes but also for the profiling of those it is aimed at. It is an invasive technology that may also be abused in the control of normal activities in democracy, such as participation in public protests.
“The fact that people may fear that big brother is observing them wherever they are could discourage civic participation,” concluded Mina Tolu.
ADPD – The Green Party Chairperson and candidate for the 4th and 9th district said that The application of this technology should be the subject of a serious public consultation exercise to determine what limits should be placed on the use of this technology. “This technology can be beneficial in situations of serious crimes and in specific places, and if its use is strictly regulated and very limited, but if used indiscriminately and to monitor people in normal day-to-day situations it can also be used as a tool for control and repression,” insisted Cacopardo.
This is because it creates an imbalance between the sense of safety and privacy of people, more so when technology of this type is used to monitor people indiscriminately and without serious control. Through this technology, the state has more information on citizens caught on video and recognised by the software. Facial recognition is reported to still be highly inaccurate. Cacopardo said that invasive technology of this kind treats everyone as if they were some potential terrorist or criminal.
In this digital age we require our surveillance to be democratically accountable to strong institutions. However, having a history of practically useless institutions which, time and again, have not been capable of standing up to those in power, is not a good point of departure. Facial recognition technology has the potential of concentrating too much information (and power) in the hands of the police. This may be very dangerous unless data protection oversight is robust.
Face recognition technology, like any other technology can be used and abused. It can make us feel safer, but it also has the potential to gnaw at our freedoms, without our realising it. There is certainly great potential but there are also enormous responsibilities.
Investing in our security does not require surrendering our privacy, concluded Cacopardo.