The Ministry of the Interior does not need a moratorium on facial recognition systems

The Ministry of the Interior does not need a moratorium on facial recognition systems

In response to an interpellation by the deputy of the Democratic Party Sensi, the Interior Ministry specified that the cameras installed in some cities are not using biometrics systems and therefore a stop is not needed

Facial recognition (Getty Images) Despite the prohibition of the Privacy Guarantor and the contrary opinion of the European guarantors on the use of biometric systems in public, some Italian municipalities have approved as many projects for the installation of new surveillance cameras equipped with software for facial recognition. For this reason, Filippo Sensi, deputy of the Democratic Party and the first signatory of a law for a moratorium on these systems, presented an urgent question to the Ministry of the Interior asking to intervene on the possible violation of the indications of the Guarantor. For the Interior Ministry, everything is in order, as stated in the answer, because the various administrations have not activated the facial recognition function, so the dicastery does not consider a government moratorium on the issue necessary.

The municipalities in question

Under observation are the cases of the municipalities of Turin, Como and Udine, in which the installation of video cameras that can support facial recognition software, paid for by state funds, in some cases provided for by the Urgent Provisions on the subject of city safety, with which 80 million euros were allocated over 3 years, for the purchase of video surveillance systems. These systems are increasingly common in our cities. In the municipality of Milan alone there are 2,174 urban security cameras, almost 1,800 in Rome, 392 in Venice and 350 in Parma.

The interrogation

Despite the widespread diffusion of video cameras, the idea of ​​a real-time control capable of immediately identifying the identity of anyone who passes under an electronic eye seems to gather more and more consents. For this reason the deputies Filippo Sensi (already promoter of a bill to suspend the use of these systems in public), Emanuele Fiano, Enrico Borghi and the deputies Debora Serracchiani, Anna Maria Madia and Chiara Brega, presented their question to the Ministry of the Interior, asking the government to intervene with a moratorium to prevent the installation of cameras capable of collecting biometric data.

The response of the Ministry of the Interior

In its response , the ministry pointed out that in Como, for example, following the installation of 16 new cameras equipped with facial recognition systems, the Privacy Guarantor intervened immediately, ordering to disable the recognition function. Since that time the municipality has complied with the directives of the Guarantor. In Turin, however, the new Argo security system, which provides for video surveillance in real time, is operating without biometric data, but preventive consultations are underway with the Guarantor to ensure full compliance with the privacy legislation in the use of the system. . As for the municipality of Udine, on the other hand, the ministry specified that the use of facial recognition systems "had only been hypothesized" and that, although it is available as a function of the new cameras purchased by the municipality, it will not be started, unless a "specific authorization" from the Guarantor does not arrive.

Based on these assessments, the ministry has therefore decided not to ask the government for the approval of a moratorium that suspends the installation of video cameras equipped with software for facial recognition, waiting for the parliament to legislate on the matter.

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