EU Surveillance Tech Bans Supported by Rights Advocates

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Rights advocates call for the ban of various forms of biometric surveillance, predictive policing, and “harmful” uses of AI in migration control in the EU. Over a hundred civil society groups and academics across Europe have demanded EU policymakers limit what they see as “unchecked forms of discriminatory and mass surveillance”

In a statement released by the group, the advocates state that the EU AI Act is providing an “urgent opportunity” to set legal boundaries for authorities to use AI, and so protect people from rights violations.

The statement reads: “Increasingly, in Europe and around the world, AI systems are developed and deployed for harmful and discriminatory forms of state surveillance.” They further state that the bans should apply to law enforcement, migration control, and national security agencies across Europe.

According to Cybernews, the group claims the areas of concern range from the use of biometrics for identification, recognition, and categorization, to predictive systems in decision-making and resource allocation, explaining that “AI in law enforcement disproportionately targets already marginalized communities, undermines legal and procedural rights, and enables mass surveillance.”

The EU AI Act, which is the first comprehensive legislation to regulate AI, was approved by the European Parliament in June. The act bans systems that present what it defines as an “unacceptable level of risk” to people’s safety and privacy, which include predictive policing tools used in several US states or China-style social scoring practices. Furthermore, it sets limits on “high-risk” AI technologies that could pose harm to people’s health or influence elections.

The AI Act has not yet been approved by the EU member states and their leaders in the European Council, and one of the points of dispute is biometric surveillance- While EU lawmakers call for a complete ban of public biometric surveillance, some states want exceptions on national security, defense, and military grounds.