Belgian police deny using controversial facial recognition software
Share article:
Share article:

Belgian police deny using controversial facial recognition software

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Belgium’s federal police have formally denied using highly controversial facial recognition software, despite data leaked from the manufacturers themselves.

The information comes from an investigation by the online magazine BuzzFeed, which initially broke the story based on a list of log-in details stolen by hackers in 2020, which was later admitted by the owners, Clearview AI, to be genuine.

It now emerges that the software was demonstrated at a conference of Europol the EU’s law enforcement agency, in 2019, and interested forces were given demonstration copies to test for themselves.

According to the BuzzFeed investigation, 88 police forces in 24 countries outside the US took up the offer, among them the Belgian Federal Police (which s a unitary force). According to BuzzFeed, the Belgian force used the tool between 100 and 500 times. When contacted by the magazine, the police declined to comment.

Now, according to Data News, the police have formally denied using the software, while saying that the various services within the force are being asked for comments on the question. And in any case, there are no current plans for the tool to be brought formally into use.

The problem for any force in Europe thinking of doing so is that it is generally considered to breach the GDPR, the regulation which we encounter many times a day when we agree to the use of cookies on a website.

Clearview, in fact, effectively hoovers up photos from websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, without the permission of the people who are pictured or those who uploaded them. The photos then form Clearview’s database of facial images, which the company boasts now numbers three billion images.

Those photos, privacy authorities are likely to conclude, were obtained illegally and may not be used by police forces in the EU.

Latest news

New Belgian video game aims to help children who stutter
A new video game by Belgian-American start-up Say It Labs aims to teach children with a stutter various techniques to improve their speech.  ...
More than 1 in 4 Belgians use mobile phones whilst driving
A recent European study into the use of mobile phones whilst driving highlights some alarming results: 26% of Belgians read or send messages on their ...
Belgium in Brief: Memories Of Masks
Belgium's experts are concerned with the rising coronavirus figures. One possible solution could be that, once again, masks are used more widely. ...
Museum Nights Fever returns to Brussels on Saturday night
After a break last year, Museum Nights Fever 2021 is back again with free visits to 32 museums hosting performances, music and other events. The ...
More than €1.5 billion injected into SNCB
More than €1.5 billion in additional funding has been injected into the Belgian railways, Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet told the House ...
Non-vaccinated applicants no longer welcome at ZNA hospitals in Antwerp
The Antwerp hospital group ZNA is only taking on new employees who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to reporting from VRT. ...
Pharmacies prepare to administer more rapid antigen tests
From November, anyone presenting coronavirus symptoms for less than six days will be able to take a rapid antigen test in a pharmacy, announced the ...
Chocolate, Christmas, and cocaine
Do you consider yourself a news buff? Someone constantly on top of what's going on? Then maybe you have what it takes to ace The Brussels Times ...
Introduction of Covid Safe Ticket leads more in Brussels to get vaccinated
The introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in the Brussels-Capital Region on 15 October seems to have led to a higher number of residents ...
More and more testimonies, and a second rally against sexual violence in Brussels
A second rally against sexual violence was held in the Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles on Thursday evening, and a sister-rally was held ...
Over 1,000 Covid-19 hospitalisations for first time since early June
The number of patients hospitalised in Belgium as a result of the coronavirus has again exceeded 1,000, climbing to 1,032, according to figures ...
Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...