Swedish government could allow law enforcement to use facial recognition 

Earlier this week, Sweden’s government announced plans to enable law enforcement to use real-time facial recognition technology via cameras in public areas, as a way of aiming to identify individuals suspected of specific crimes.

This announcement follows the European Union’s adoption of regulations in March that govern artificial intelligence usage. These rules prohibit real-time facial recognition in public spaces, except for certain law enforcement scenarios.

In December, the Swedish government initiated an enquiry into expanding law enforcement’s camera surveillance capabilities, including the use of facial recognition technology. 

Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer, during a press conference, shared that the inquiry’s findings were presented to the government on Monday. He stated that the aim was to provide the necessary insights to advance the use of cameras in crime prevention.

The EU’s exceptions permit the use of facial recognition technology for a number of reasons. These reasons include: locating missing people, looking for or tracking suspected victims of human trafficking, or preventing imminent threats to the public such as terrorist attacks.

It also allows the technology to identify people suspected of committing certain criminal offences, but strictly within the context of working on specific investigations and not just for preventive purposes.

Strommer expressed overall support for the proposal after noting that the enquiry had thoroughly considered the balance between privacy concerns and effective crime-fighting. 

He also mentioned that the government would now focus on finalising the details of the plan, However, he noted that no official implementation date has been set at the moment. 

Kazimir Aberg, who led the enquiry, said that police should only be allowed to use facial recognition technology after authorisation from a judicial authority, and only for serious crimes that carry a four-year prison sentence or more. 

He added: “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.”

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