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Russian regime is abusing facial recognition systems to detect protesters

Brussels, 15/03/2022 – Russian authorities abuse facial recognition systems to identify and persecute participants of anti-war demonstrations. Even before, as Amnesty International reported, Russian authorities used the same technology to monitor and detain several activists and journalists involved in rallies in support of Alexei Navalny.

Marcel Kolaja, Member and Quaestor of the European Parliament, member of CULT committee, comments:

“We must not give a blank check to any European government, which would want to abuse such technology to track and persecute their own citizens. Recent revelations of the Pegasus scandal provided us with a clear proof of an appetite of Polish and Hungarian governments to spy on journalists and opposition politicians. Is a dystopian Europe in the style of Big Brother really the place, we want to live in?”

Marcel Kolaja is the opinion rapporteur on the AI Act in the CULT committee and today, he presented his priorities for the upcoming negotiations. Besides the ban on facial recognition systems in public spaces, he also highlighted that we must make sure that systems to prevent cheating during exams on-line, so called e-Proctoring systems do not discriminate anyone and function properly. Therefore, he suggests that the list of high-risk applications in this sector is extended to the usage of AI technologies at schools and educational institutions.

On 24 April 2021, the European Commission published its legislative proposal laying down harmonised rules on artificial intelligence (AI Act), which introduces a regulatory framework with the objective of ensuring that AI systems placed on the European Union market are safe to use and respect fundamental rights and European Union values. The CULT Rapporteur also proposes to ban deployment of facial recognition systems in publicly accessible places, following up on the Parliament resolution of 6 October 2021 on “Artificial intelligence in criminal law and its use by the police and judicial authorities in criminal matters”. The file should be voted in the CULT committee on May 2022. The AI Act is expected to be voted at plenary in November 2022.

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Nikolaus Riss for German and English +436769694000

Tomáš Polák for Czech and English +420728035059

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