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Why a UN body is raising the alarm on biometric recognition tech in public spaces

The UN report argued that AI-based systems were prone to bias even as the use of facial recognition tech grows in India.

Governments should impose a moratorium on using biometric recognition technology in public spaces, a new report released on September 15 by the UN Human Rights Office recommended. The use of AI for remote biometric recognition interferes with the international human rights to privacy, freedom of movement and expression, the report observed. In a press release announcing the report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said: We cannot afford to continue playing catch-up regarding AI – allowing its use with limited or no boundaries or oversight, and dealing with the almost inevitable human rights consequences after the fact[...]Action is needed now to put human rights guardrails on the use of AI, for the good of all of us. Disregarding the threat to citizens' rights, state governments in India are already rushing to implement face recognition technology, most recently in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The new UN report could be key to starting a conversation about halting the deployment of such AI applications until adequate legislative frameworks are in place. Biometric recognition in public threatens human rights: UN States should wait to deploy biometric recognition in public spaces until they demonstrate that 1) they are compliant with privacy and data protection standards and 2) accuracy and bias issues have been dealt with, the report from the UN High Commission for Human Rights recommended. In its report, the UN body pointed out the following concerns with using AI for biometric recognition in public spaces: Bias and Error: The report acknowledged that…

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