Civil society calls on the EU to draw limits on surveillance technology

Police and migration authorities must respect fundamental rights when using AI

As AI systems are increasingly used by law enforcement, migration control and national security authorities, the EU Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) is an urgent opportunity to prevent harm, protect people from rights violations and provide legal boundaries for authorities to use AI within the confines of the rule of law.


20 September 2023

#aiact #eu #surveillance

Foto vo AJ Colores auf Unsplash

Nikolett Aszódi
Policy & Advocacy Manager

In Europe and around the world, AI systems are developed and deployed for harmful and discriminatory forms of state surveillance. From the use of biometrics for identification, recognition and categorization, to predictive systems in various decision-making and resource allocation capacities, AI in law enforcement disproportionately targets already marginalized communities, undermines legal and procedural rights, and enables mass surveillance.

When AI systems are deployed in contexts of law enforcement, security and migration control (including the policing of social security), the power imbalance between the authorities and the surveilled is even more profound. This means that there is an even greater risk of harm, and violations of fundamental rights and the rule of law.

This statement outlines the urgent need to regulate the use of AI systems by law enforcement, migration control and national security authorities throughout Europe.

We point to the specific dangers to freedom of assembly, liberty, the right to asylum, privacy and data protection, the right to social protection, and non-discrimination when such technology is deployed by those authorities.

Civil society organisations are calling for an AI Act that prevents unchecked forms of discriminatory and mass surveillance. In order to uphold human rights and prevent harm from the use of AI in policing, migration control and national security, the EU AI Act must:

  1. Include legal limits prohibiting AI for uses that pose an unacceptable risk for fundamental rights. This includes a legal prohibition on different forms of biometric surveillance, predictive policing, and harmful uses of AI in the migration context.
  2. Provide public transparency and oversight when police, migration and national security agencies use ‘high-risk’ AI, by upholding an equal duty of these authorities to register high risk uses in the EU AI database.  
  3. Ensure that the AI Act properly regulates the uses of AI in policing, migration and national security that pose risk to human rights, specifically the full list of AI in migration control, and ensuring that national security is not excluded from scope.

Read more on our policy & advocacy work on the Artificial Intelligence Act