Facial recognition tech faces widespread privacy concerns in Europe

World Today

Facial recognition tech faces widespread privacy concerns in Europe

While facial recognition technology may be all the rage at tech shows, many European consumers are saying privacy needs to come first. Citizens place a high emphasis on data protection, so they are approaching facial recognition and other new technologies with some trepidation.

CGTN’s Kevin Ozebek reports from Brussels.

Follow Kevin Ozebek on Twitter @KevinOzebek

Facial recognition may be the coolest and newest way to unlock phones and secure mobile payments, but in Europe, privacy concerns are paramount.

Despite concerns, facial recognition technology is already in use across Europe. At the main international airport in Brussels, for instance, passengers can be subject to a facial scan to make sure their passports aren’t fake.

There are some limits though, and companies like Facebook are well aware of them. Because of privacy laws, the social media giant can’t use facial recognition technology when suggesting friends to tag in photos.

Many in Europe want regulations like that in place across the board to make sure their personal information is never compromised.

A 2015 survey by Eurobarometer shows 67 percent of Europeans are worried about not having total control over information they put online, while 63 percent don’t trust online businesses.

“The philosophy that the market itself can lead to secure and successful market outcomes without rules, without intervention, without regulation is not so widely accepted in this part of the world,” according to Georgios Petropoulos of the think tank Bruegel.

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Reacting to this desire among citizens, the EU has passed what’s known as the General Data Protection Regulation.  The sweeping legislation will go into effect next year, bringing hefty fines if consumers’ personal data is misused.

“You need to have some rules, some regulations in place to correct for these market failures,” Erik Van Der Marel of the European Centre for International Political Economy said. “But the trick for policy makers is to make sure these regulations aren’t becoming too burdensome.”

Economists said the digital revolution is still too new to know if all the regulations have helped or hurt Europe’s tech sector.

But when you talk to Europeans, it’s clear many want rules in place to protect their data in this digital age.