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Berlin Group meets in Israel to discuss privacy risks of facial recognition, smart cities tech

“Facial recognition in the public sphere must not be allowed without explicit authorization granted through a specific, unique law,” said the group


Some of the Berlin Group meeting participants. Photo courtesy Israeli Ministry of Justice
Some of the Berlin Group meeting participants. Photo courtesy Israeli Ministry of Justice

Following two years without frontal meetings and gatherings, the International Working Group on Data Protection in Technology (IWGDP), also known as the Berlin Group, met in Israel last week.


Hosted by the Israel Privacy Protection Authority, this was the 69th gathering of the group, which was established in 1983 on the initiative of several national data protection authorities around the world. Since the beginning, the secretariat has been provided by the data protection authority of Berlin.


Representatives of 17 data protection authorities from 15 countries and the EU discussed the increasing risks to privacy due to technological advancements such as facial recognition algorithms and smart cities, as well as mitigation methods and attempts.


The participants agreed that guidelines must be set and proper measures should be taken in order to ensure minimizing invasion of privacy as much as possible.


“Facial recognition in the public sphere must not be allowed without explicit authorization granted through a specific, unique law, and only with setting internal and external control and supervision mechanisms, due to the increasing fear of privacy violation and mass surveillance,” the group said in a statement following the meeting.


The group also discussed the other aspect of technology – as a means to amplify and augment privacy.


Members from authorities in Israel, the EU, the US, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, Norway, Hungary, the Netherlands, the UK, Morocco, Albania and Serbia participated in the meeting.

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