Facial recognition technology could threaten 'fundamental human rights,' ADPD says

ADPD says that facial recognition technology could be abused to follow the movements of people violating their right to privacy 

File photo
File photo

ADPD has warned that facial recognition technology may threaten fundamental human rights if not operated properly.

The party said it was also concerned about the lack of information about the government's agreement with the Chinese company Huawei to provide such services in Malta.

ADPD candidate Mina Tolu said that although the primary aim of facial recognition technology was crime prevention, this may be abused to follow the movement of persons and, therefore, violates the right to privacy.

“We do not want to have our daily lives followed at every step. As has been acknowledged that this is not acceptable online, likewise we do not want it to happen in our physical activities,” Tolu said.

The candidate said that while this technology was in its early stages of development, it can be further developed not just for identification purposes but also for profiling those it is aimed at.

“The fact that people may fear that big brother is observing them wherever they are could discourage civic participation,” Tolu added.

ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that the application of this technology should be the subject of a serious public consultation exercise to determine what limits should be placed on the use of this technology.

“This technology can be beneficial in situations of serious crimes and in specific places, and if its use is strictly regulated and very limited, but if used indiscriminately and to monitor people in normal day-to-day situations, it can also be used as a tool for control and repression,” Cacopardo insisted.

This created an imbalance between the sense of safety and privacy of people, more so when the technology of this type is used to monitor people indiscriminately and without serious control, he added.

“In this digital age, we require our surveillance to be democratically accountable to strong institutions. However, having a history of practically useless institutions which, time and again, have not been capable of standing up to those in power is not a good point of departure,” he said.