15 Sept 2022. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the right to privacy in the digital age

Our Centre’s Co-Director Elizabeth Farries wrote in June with Olga Cronin, ICCL Policy Officer, and INCLO members a submission to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the right to privacy in the digital age (published today).

The UN report makes a number of important observations on the foot of our submission.

  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 UN 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).

These observations are important and timely. In Ireland, the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill 2022, intended as the legislative home for policing Facial Recognition Technology, is not on the list of autumn session priorities as originally planned.

This schedule follows our Centre Member summer advocacy including:

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