Sweden wants to let police use facial recognition technology

Sweden's government wants to enable law enforcement to identify suspects in certain crimes, by using real-time facial recognition technology from cameras in public areas. Strommer (middle) stated that the inquiry's goal was to give the government the ‘insight’ required to proceed ‘considerably’ with the use of cameras to combat crime. — AFP

STOCKHOLM: Sweden's government said June 3 that it wanted to give law enforcement the ability to use real-time facial recognition technology from cameras in public places, for example to identify people suspected of certain crimes.

The announcement comes after the European Union adopted rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence in March, which banned real-time facial recognition in public spaces but allowed some exceptions for law enforcement.

In December, the Swedish government ordered an inquiry into expanded powers for law enforcement to use camera surveillance, including the use of facial recognition technology.

Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer told a press conference the inquiry, whose findings were presented to the government Monday, aimed to provide the “insight” needed to move forward "considerably" on the use of cameras for fighting crime.

"Facial recognition in real time in public places should be allowed for crime-fighting purposes to the extent that the EU's AI regulation allows," said Kazimir Aberg, who headed the inquiry.

The EU exceptions include searching for missing people or specific suspected victims of human trafficking, or preventing imminent threats such as a terrorist attack.

It also allows the technology for locating individuals suspected of committing certain criminal offences.

Aberg said police should be allowed to use the technology only for crimes carrying at least a four-year prison sentence, and only after authorisation from a judicial authority.

In addition, the technology should be allowed only for specific investigations and not preventively, Aberg said.

Strommer said the government welcomed the proposal, saying he believed the inquiry had thoroughly addressed the balance between integrity concerns and effective crime fighting.

He said the government would begin working on firming up the details of the plan, though no date was proposed for its implementation. – AFP

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