Home ireland Harris hoping for agreement on Garda body camera legislation

Harris hoping for agreement on Garda body camera legislation

Harris hoping for agreement on Garda body camera legislation

The Minister for Justice has said he’d like to see legislation introduced as quickly as possible to allow for the use of body cameras by gardaí.

The introduction of facial recognition technology (FRT) has been stalled by objections raised by the Green Party over civil liberties concerns.

Minister Simon Harris said a compromise paper has been produced, and good progress has been made within Government.

He said he is hopeful an agreement on the issue can be reached soon.

“I think there’s issues that the Green Party have raised that are valid… and we have responded in kind by saying ‘year, fair enough’, on certain issues.

“But fundamentally in a compromise there has to be a landing zone found. We’ve certainly been willing to compromise, we’ve put forward I think decent robust proposals that try to act on the security concerns and views of the Garda Commissioner, the needs of the men and women of An Garda Síochána, and absolutely the views of the different parts of Government.”

Experts have expressed concern about the proposed use of facial recognition technology.

In a recent interview with BreakingNews.ie, Elizabeth Farries, Assistant Professor at the School of Information and Communication Studies at UCD, outlined her concerns.

Prof Farries said: “Including facial recognition technology in a bill without consultation would be a reversal of the democratic process.

“The existing evidence we have is that it’s quite clear it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. We have peer reviewed research and studies saying that the risks of discrimination are too high to deploy it in policing contexts.

“A lot of discussion is around the accuracy. The tech thus far has been shown to disproportionately misidentify anyone who is not a white man, therefore if you are Black, if you are a woman, you are at a higher risk of being misidentified.”

She said some experts feel a lot more work should be done on FRT before it can be safely used, while “others don’t think it should be done at all, it should simply be discontinued”.

While the intentions behind it may be good, Prof Farries feels the use of FRT in garda body cameras would “open the door to mass surveillance” of the population.