Google CEO backs temporary ban on facial recognition

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai supports a temporary ban on facial recognition technology in the European Union.

Activists and technologists have called the controversial technology racially biased, and voiced concerns about privacy, regarding its use by governments and law enforcement.

“I think it is important that governments and regulations tackle it sooner rather than later and give a framework for it,” Pichai told a conference in Brussels, according to Reuters. Alphabet is Google's parent company.

“It can be immediate but maybe there’s a waiting period before we really think about how it’s being used,” he added. “It’s up to governments to chart the course” for the use of such technology.

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Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai supports the EU's temporary ban on facial recognition technology. (iStock)

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai supports the EU's temporary ban on facial recognition technology. (iStock)

The American Civil Liberties Union praised the tech mogul for his comments.

"Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai is right to back a temporary ban on face recognition -- and the United States should likewise halt law enforcement use of this technology without delay. As reports this weekend further confirmed, unethical surveillance companies will not wait for regulations before pushing their untested, error-prone and dystopian face tracking technologies on police departments across the country and the world," said Neema Guliani, senior legislative counsel with the ACLU, in a statement emailed to Fox News.

Reuters reports that the EU's more stringent stance on AI includes strengthening existing privacy regulations, as well as a five-year moratorium on using facial recognition technology in public areas.

However, Microsoft CEO Brad Smith took a different view, citing the potential positive uses of the technology, such as helping families to locate lost loved ones.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai is seen above in Washington, D.C.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is seen above in Washington, D.C. (AP)

“I’m really reluctant to say let’s stop people from using technology in a way that will reunite families when it can help them do it,” Smith said, according to Reuters. “The second thing I would say is you don’t ban it if you actually believe there is a reasonable alternative that will enable us to, say, address this problem with a scalpel instead of a meat cleaver."

Last year, the ACLU led a coalition of advocacy groups to demand that Google, Microsoft and Amazon commit to not selling face surveillance technology to the government.

"We cannot sit idly by while a dangerous dragnet surveillance architecture is built in the shadows, threatening our core rights and values in a free society. It's time for lawmakers to swiftly put the brakes on law enforcement use of face recognition, before it's too late," Guliani explained to Fox via email.

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