The AI Now Institute wants a complete ban on remote biometric identification, Kak added.

“Nothing else makes sense,” she told DW, adding that privacy laws and other rules won’t help. “And not just in the Middle East, but here in the US and in Europe too. The problems with these systems aren’t magically fixed in Western liberal democracies — even though the dystopia of what can go wrong is often immediately palpable under authoritarian regimes.”

Amba Kak, the director of the New York-based AI Now Institute, agreed that the technology can enable governments’ power over their citizens.

“These systems enable mass surveillance of a kind that seriously shifts the balance of power between those that surveil and those that are watched, with serious chilling effects on political and private lives of citizens,” she said.

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