STATEMENT: Costello welcomes Green Party clarification of position on Facial Recognition Technology from Minister Ryan

Green Party Spokesperson for Justice Patrick Costello TD was today speaking following comments made by Minister Ryan opposing the introduction of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT).

He began, “I welcome Minister Ryan’s clarification that the Green Party will not be backing down on the attempts to push facial recognition technology to be added to the existing Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill. The use of facial recognition technology is far too complex an issue to be handled as an amendment and it should be introduced, if at all, as a separate piece of legislation.

The pre-legislative report of the existing stated as its first recommendation “The Committee recommends that the Codes of Practice covering Head 2 ensure that the information and data collected by body-worn cameras (BWCs) and CCTV devices will not use Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) and will not be used to racially profile members of the public.” Adding FRT to the bill would run completely counter to this recommendation.”

He continued, “The Chair of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, has recently stated that a standalone piece of legislation should be introduced in order to allow for the standard process of pre-legislative scrutiny, whereby experts and stakeholders can invited to examine the legislation in committee hearings.”

Concluding he remarked on the dangers of FRT, “FRT is beset by issues of accuracy, racial bias, privacy, transparency and fairness. The use of FRT may run afoul of pending EU law (the AI Act) and Ireland risks having to unpick a domestic law after an EU law is passed, incurring significant and unnecessary costs. An Garda Síochána has previously been criticised by the Data Protection Commission for not properly applying data protection law with regard to existing surveillance technologies. I believe that the structural problems identified must be tackled before we even consider deploying powerful new surveillance technologies.”