Inter­pel­la­ti­on Mar­ti (22.3993): Legal basis for auto­ma­ted facial reco­gni­ti­on in cri­mi­nal proceedings

Inter­pel­la­ti­on Mar­ti (22.3993): Legal basis for auto­ma­ted facial reco­gni­ti­on in cri­mi­nal proceedings

Sub­mit­ted text

The Fede­ral Coun­cil wri­tes in its ans­wer to a que­sti­on by Maja Rini­ker (21.7896) that the legal foun­da­ti­ons are in place for Facial reco­gni­ti­on in cri­mi­nal pro­ce­e­dings and to be used in inve­sti­ga­ti­ons. At the same time, he also wri­tes that the­re is a need for spe­cial legis­la­ti­on for facial reco­gni­ti­on, which enables uni­que iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of the per­son, due to the Data Pro­tec­tion Act. In this con­text, I ask to ans­wer the fol­lo­wing questions:

1. whe­re in the Code of Cri­mi­nal Pro­ce­du­re are the legal foun­da­ti­ons for the auto­ma­ted use of facial reco­gni­ti­on tech­no­lo­gy in cri­mi­nal pro­ce­e­dings, i.e. in inve­sti­ga­ti­ons, enshri­ned? Or does the refe­rence to the legal foun­da­ti­ons refer to other laws?

2) In the view of the Fede­ral Coun­cil, are the legal foun­da­ti­ons suf­fi­ci­ent­ly defi­ned to enable the can­to­nal poli­ce forces to per­form this type of ana­ly­sis of bio­me­tric data? Which are­as of appli­ca­ti­on are cover­ed by the cur­rent law?

3 Does the refe­rence to the spe­cial legis­la­ti­on requi­red by the Data Pro­tec­tion Act not con­tra­dict the state­ment that the legal basis for use in cri­mi­nal pro­ce­e­dings and inve­sti­ga­ti­ons is given? Would­n’t an expli­cit legal basis also be requi­red in cri­mi­nal pro­ce­du­re law?

4. are such spe­cial legis­la­ti­on plan­ned for fur­ther use of facial reco­gni­ti­on? If so, which ones and for which use cases?

State­ment of the Fede­ral Coun­cil of 16.11.22

As sta­ted in the Fede­ral Council’s respon­se to a que­sti­on by Maja Rini­ker (21.7896), facial reco­gni­ti­on is a pro­ce­s­sing of per­so­nal data that requi­res spe­cial pro­tec­tion. In prin­ci­ple, per­so­nal data requi­ring spe­cial pro­tec­tion may only be pro­ce­s­sed if a law in the for­mal sen­se express­ly pro­vi­des for this. In cri­mi­nal pro­ce­e­dings, this inclu­des in par­ti­cu­lar Art. 260 and fol­lo­wing of the Code of Cri­mi­nal Pro­ce­du­re (StPO; SR 312.0) for the coll­ec­tion of iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on ser­vice data, Art. 354 para. 1 of the Swiss Cri­mi­nal Code (StGB; SR 311.0) for their sto­rage and Art. 14 para. 2 of the Fede­ral Law on Poli­ce Infor­ma­ti­on Systems (BPI; SR 361) with regard to the lin­king bet­ween data records as rele­vant legal bases. Howe­ver, the­se norms do not pro­vi­de a legal basis for the use of facial reco­gni­ti­on wit­hout suspicion.

Accor­ding to Art. 2 of the Ordi­nan­ce on the Pro­ce­s­sing of Bio­me­tric Iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on Ser­vice Data (so-cal­led ED Ordi­nan­ce; SR 361.3), pho­to­graphs are defi­ned as bio­me­tric iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on ser­vice data and as such fall into the same cate­go­ry as fin­ger­prints, palm prints and palm edge prints or also signal emis­si­ons. Con­se­quent­ly, facial images may be coll­ec­ted under the same con­di­ti­ons and from the same sources as fin­ger­prints, palm prints, and palm edge prints. The sub­se­quent use of the facial images is also based on the same legal requi­re­ments as fin­ger­prints, palm prints and palm edge prints. This means that under the cur­rent legal basis, no facial reco­gni­ti­on may be car­ri­ed out in real time, i.e. con­ti­nuous­ly from the live image of a sur­veil­lan­ce came­ra in a public space, for exam­p­le. What is pos­si­ble, howe­ver, are so-cal­led facial image matches, in which indi­vi­du­al images are com­pared as an “image trace” with facial images that were coll­ec­ted during a reco­gni­ti­on ser­vice tre­at­ment and are available in the auto­ma­ted fin­ger­print iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on system (AFIS). This pro­cess, refer­red to as “facial image matching” to distin­gu­ish it from the gene­ral term facial reco­gni­ti­on, can be per­for­med manu­al­ly or auto­ma­ti­cal­ly – quite ana­log­ous to the pro­ce­s­sing of fin­ger­prints, palm prints, and palm edge prints.

It is the­r­e­fo­re important not to con­fu­se the terms “facial image matching” and “facial image recognition”.

The use of iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on data in cri­mi­nal pro­ce­e­dings is gover­ned by Art. 260 and fol­lo­wing of the Code of Cri­mi­nal Pro­ce­du­re. Pur­su­ant to Art. 354 para. 1 of the Swiss Cri­mi­nal Code, the com­pe­tent depart­ment regi­sters and stores iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on ser­vice data coll­ec­ted by can­to­nal, fede­ral and for­eign aut­ho­ri­ties in the cour­se of cri­mi­nal pro­se­cu­ti­ons or in the per­for­mance of other sta­tu­to­ry duties and trans­mit­ted to it. The­se data may be com­pared to iden­ti­fy a wan­ted or unknown per­son. This pro­vi­si­on forms the legal basis for the AFIS infor­ma­ti­on system and, in par­ti­cu­lar, the regi­stry, sto­rage and com­pa­ri­son of bio­me­tric iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on data.

Data com­pa­ri­son may be car­ri­ed out sole­ly for the pur­po­se of iden­ti­fy­ing a wan­ted or unknown per­son and for eva­lua­ting crime sce­ne evi­dence. The legal term of bio­me­tric iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on data expli­ci­t­ly inclu­des, as men­tio­ned in the preli­mi­na­ry remark, pho­to­graphs in addi­ti­on to dac­ty­lo­s­co­pic data and traces as well as signa­le­ments. This fol­lows first of all from Art. 354 para. 4 StGB in con­junc­tion with Art. 2 let. c of the StGB. Artic­le 2(c) of the ED Ordi­nan­ce, which lists pho­to­graphs in the final cata­log of bio­me­tric iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on data to be regu­la­ted under this ordi­nan­ce. The fact that fed­pol may pro­cess pho­to­graphs in its infor­ma­ti­on system also fol­lows from Art. 14 para. 2 of the Fede­ral Law on Poli­ce Infor­ma­ti­on Systems, which expli­ci­t­ly lists pho­to­graphs for iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on pur­po­ses as a cate­go­ry of data (Art. 14 para. 2 BPI). The can­tons may pro­vi­de fed­pol with bio­me­tric iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on ser­vice data for com­pa­ri­son pur­su­ant to Art. 354 para. 2 lit. d StGB.
No, the­re is no con­tra­dic­tion with the cur­rent legal situa­ti­on. As sta­ted abo­ve, the­re are no plans to car­ry out facial image reco­gni­ti­on, but only facial image matching for the iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of wan­ted or unknown per­sons and for the eva­lua­ti­on of crime sce­ne evi­dence. The cur­rent (for­mal and sub­stan­ti­ve) legal pro­vi­si­ons for this are suf­fi­ci­ent and cor­re­spond to tho­se that also app­ly to the sto­rage and com­pa­ri­son of fin­ger­prints and palm prints. By con­trast, the intro­duc­tion of facial reco­gni­ti­on in a dif­fe­rent area or for a dif­fe­rent pur­po­se, such as the use of facial reco­gni­ti­on wit­hout sus­pi­ci­on, would requi­re a spe­cial for­mal legal basis.
4. no, the­re are no legis­la­ti­ve pro­jects plan­ned in this area at the fede­ral level at the pre­sent time.




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