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Sweden permits police-use of facial recognition technology

Image representing facial recogntition

Sweden’s Data Protection Authority (DPA) has allowed the country’s police to use facial recognition technology for identifying criminal suspects as it’s “far more effective” at identifying perpetrators than manual identification by police. The Swedish police had requested an “advance decision” on if it could use facial recognition technology under Swedish laws. It had submitted an impact assessment to the DPA, stating that use of the technology does not pose any risk of intruding people’s privacy.

How long can this data be stored for? The DPA didn’t specify the time this, but said that the police should decide how long it needs to be stored before they implement this technology; as it’s important from an “integrity” point of view, the DPA said.

Processing of data: Under Sweden’s Crime Data Act, it is “necessary” for a competent authority to be able to carry out the processing of personal data to perform its task effectively, the DPA said. It also said that such information can be processed at Sweden’s National Forensic Centre, and that the Crime Data Act has enough measures to protect processing of personal data.

No mention of consent: Under EU’s General Data Protection Law (GDPR) processing of personal data is legal if consent is sought from the person whose data is being processed, among other conditions. The DPA’s judgement doesn’t clarify the possible recourse in case a person denies his/her data consent for processing of their data.

A similar judgement by a UK Court: It is worth noting that the High Court in UK, in September, had ruled that it is lawful for the police to use facial recognition technology to search for people in crowds, as it did not breach human rights or data protection laws.

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Cities in the US have banned police use of facial recognition tech: Four cities in the US have banned the use of facial recognition systems by government bodies, including the police. Berkeley became the fourth city in the US to place such a ban on the technology, and the city council noted that the use of facial recognition technology to track groups or individuals “flies in the face” of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Meanwhile in India: Police in Telangana has been roaming around the streets scanning suspects’ faces and collecting their fingerprints on a mobile application. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has invited tenders for implementing a centralised Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS). This system will be integrated with the Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS), Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS), Immigration Visa Foreigner Registration Tracking (IVFRT), advanced State police Integration (Police IT Karnatak, Enterprise e-Cops Telangana, G-Cops Goa, Cyprus Tamil Naidu, e-Guj Gujarat.

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