EU: European Parliament adopts ban on facial recognition but leaves migrants, refugees and asylum seekers at risk 

Responding to the European Parliament’s decision to ban invasive mass surveillance technologies in its Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), Mher Hakobyan, Advocacy Advisor on AI Regulation said: 

“We welcome the European Parliament’s decision to adopt a ban on abusive mass surveillance technology in today’s landmark vote.

We welcome the European Parliament’s decision to adopt a ban on abusive mass surveillance technology in today’s landmark vote.

“However, it is essential the Parliament and EU Member States ensure that development, sale, use and export of facial recognition and other mass surveillance technologies are banned in the final AI Act during upcoming negotiations.  

“There is no human rights compliant way to use remote biometric identification (RBI). No fixes, technical or otherwise, can make it compatible with human rights law. The only safeguard against RBI is an outright ban. If these systems are legalized, it will set an alarming and far-reaching precedent, leading to the proliferation of AI technologies that don’t comply with human rights in the future.  

“Whilst the ban on abusive surveillance is a welcome step in the right direction, this was not a wholesale victory. It is concerning that the European Parliament fell short of upholding human rights when AI systems affect migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The Parliament failed to ban discriminatory profiling and risk assessment systems, as well as forecasting systems used to curtail, prohibit and prevent border movements. It is vital as the AI Act heads towards final negotiations; EU lawmakers do not dismiss rights of people on the move.” 


The European Parliament reached considerable human rights protections during the committee vote on the AI Act on May 11.

The European Commission proposed legislation governing the use of artificial intelligence on 21 April 2021. The Council of the EU, composed of EU national governments, adopted its position in December 2022.  

Amnesty International, as part of a coalition of civil society organizations led by the European Digital Rights Network (EDRi), has been calling for EU artificial intelligence regulation that protects and promotes human rights.