The EU’s proposed ban on facial recognition in the new COVID-19 world – finding balance between privacy and public safety

At the start of 2020, the European Commission was seriously considering the ban of facial recognition technology in public spaces, temporarily, until the EU could properly assess the implications this technology would have on privacy regulations. This approach would have built on the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that established regulatory requirements on data protection and privacy in the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as the transfer of personal data beyond the EU and EEA.

This approach was reasonable in terms of personal information security and in line with general public concerns. However, the new year gave rise to the viral global pandemic of COVID-19. Thus, began the push towards emerging technologies such as facial recognition that would further its potential capabilities as well as advance the debate as to how and when the technology should be deployed.