Centre contribution to United Nations report on privacy in the digital age

16 September 2022. Assistant Professor Elizabeth Farries wrote with Olga Cronin, policy officer at ICCL and INCLO members, a submission to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the right to privacy in the digital age.

The report UN report can be found here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/spyware-and-surveillance-threats-privacy-and-human-rights-growing-un-report

Our submission submission is here https://bit.ly/3qEbRq7

The UN report’s observations on the foot of our submission include:

  1. The impact of ‘public surveillance on human rights is further aggravated because data sources are increasingly merged, for example by combining facial recognition-equipped video surveillance feeds with social media data’ (para 40).
  2. The ‘added capacities to carry out facial recognition and identify behaviour as suspicious are among the most problematic features of sophisticated video surveillance systems’ (para 32).

Additionally, the report observes that for ‘facial recognition technology in public spaces, which requires the collection and processing of facial images of all persons captured on camera, such interference is occurring on a mass and indiscriminate scale’ (para 44).

This concern about mass and indiscriminate surveillance is relevant to our Centre members’ advocacy in relation to announcments that police would use facial recognition technology and that the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) would ground this use in legislation: the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill 2022. However, we note that Bill on the list of autumn session priorities as originally planned https://bit.ly/3LgNQiw.

These events follow our summer advocacy including:

  1. An expert open letter drawing a red line on Policing Facial Recognition Tech bit.ly/3BiKyXr  and
  2. Our follow up letter to cabinet: bit.ly/3Dousyc

Bottom line The OHCHR report recognises that is essential to safeguard rights against intrusive technologies. Protecting fundamental rights keeps everyone safer!

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