Personal data watchdog explains use of facial recognition

The Personal Data Protection Office (GPDP) has issued a letter explaining its stance regarding the installation of facial recognition technology in some of Macau’s surveillance cameras.
In the letter, the GPDP opted for the reference of “facial recognition technology” instead of “facial recognition system”, as the latter has a broader meaning and may cause confusion.
According to the Office, law enforcement authorities have been in regular contact regarding different plans by which the technology might be implemented.
The GPDP has already opposed some suggestions raised by law enforcement authorities, while it has requested that others be amended. The police have dropped the plans that were not fully accepted by the Office.
The technology is meant to provide auxiliary support to the work of the police. The data privacy watchdog pointed out that there are three general conditions in which the use of the technology is allowed, namely when the police want to search for a particular suspect with the particulars of the suspect already known; when the police need to identify or verify the identity of a particular person captured on video footage; or when the police want to conduct an analysis on the existence of crime or possible crime.
It was reiterated that even without the technology, these “supportive functions” are conducted manually. The technology is thus used only to improve police efficiency and assist in analysis.
The GPDP emphasized that all work done by the police will have to abide by the relevant data privacy laws. AL

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