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Biometric and behavioural mass surveillance in EU Member states

A Greens/EFA study

This report commissioned by the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament was written by Dr. Francesco  Ragazzi, Dr. Elif Mendos Kuskonmaz, Ildikó Z Plájás, Ruben van de Ven and Dr Ben Wagner .


INTRODUCTION

Key points

The aim of this report is to establish a problematised overview of what is currently being done in Europe when it comes to remote biometric identification (RBI), and to assess in which cases we could potentially fall into forms of biometric mass surveillance.

Private and public actors are increasingly deploying “smart surveillance” solutions including RBI technologies which, if left unchecked, could become biometric mass surveillance.

Facial recognition technology has been the most discussed of the RBI technologies. However, there seems to be little understanding of the ways in which this technology might be applied and the potential impact of such a broad range of applications on the fundamental rights of European citizens.

The development of RBI systems by authoritarian regimes which may subsequently be exported to and used within Europe is of concern. Not only as it pertains to the deployments of such technologies but also the lack of adequate insight into the privacy practices of the companies supplying the systems.

Four main positions have emerged with regard to the deployments of RBI technologies and their potential impact on fundamental rights:

  1. active promotion;
  2. support with safeguards;
  3. moratorium;
  4. outright ban.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

This report commissioned by the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament was written by

  • Dr. Francesco Ragazzi (scientific coordinator) is an associate professor in International Relations at Leiden University (Netherlands), an associated scholar at the Centre d’Etude sur les Conflits, Liberté et Sécurité (France).
  • Dr. Elif Mendos Kuskonmaz is a lecturer at the School of Law at the University of Portsmouth.
  • Ildikó Z Plájás is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Political Science, Leiden University.
  • Ruben van de Ven is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the Institute of Political Science, Leiden University.
  • Dr Ben Wagner is is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at TU Delft & Professor of Media, Technology and Society at Inholland.

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