Garda body cams should not use facial recognition technology, committee warns – Irish Examiner

The committee recommends strict guidelines on when gardaí activate and deactivate camweras.
Garda body-worn cameras should not use facial recognition technology and should not be used to racially profile people, according to recommendations from the Oireachtas justice committee.
Provision for the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) is set out in draft legislation, published last July.
That came two years after Cabinet had approved laws allowing the cameras. The Garda Representative Association (GRA) had campaigned for them since 2016, though some civil rights groups have raised concerns.
Publishing their report on pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme, the justice committee made 15 recommendations.
That followed hearings with the Department of Justice, the Policing Authority, the Data Protection Commission, The Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the GRA.
The committee recommends that the Codes of Practice governing the use of BWCs and CCTV devices should not use facial recognition technology (FRT) and not be used to racially profile members of the public.
Biometric tracking devices
The committee said if the Government does include biometric tracking devices such as FRT as a “recording device” under the bill it has to include specific safeguards to ensure regulation and monitoring of such devices, underpinned by human rights impact assessment and data protection impact assessments.
The committee further recommends strict guidelines on when gardaí activate and deactivate the devices, and protocols on handling evidence captured midway through an interaction. It recommends a pilot scheme to test their efficiency and impact.
The report said the committee heard concerns around the broad definition of “recording device”, which could include camcorders, mobile phones, tablets, other handheld devices and drones, while also intending to cover “possible emerging technologies in the future”.
It said some witnesses highlighted an apparent discrepancy between statements by the Department of Justice that FRT will not be used as part of these devices, while An Garda Síochána modernisation plan 2016-2021 indicated an intention to incorporate FRT to track suspects from CCTV, and their intention to use technologies like face-in-the-crowd and shape-in-the-crowd biometrics.

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But the committee said that it was pointed out that the Garda Síochána code of practice states that automatic FRT are prohibited.
The committee report said some concerns were raised of the over-policing of areas by recording devices such as CCTV.
It said the GRA stated that they feel communities are under-policed rather than overpoliced and that the cameras will improve transparency and the quality of policing.
The GRA stated they believe that gardaí are overwhelmingly supportive of BWCs.

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