The European Union is considering banning facial-recognition software in public areas for up to five years so privacy issues surrounding artificial intelligence can be sorted out, a report from Reuters says.

The move is in sharp contrast with the U.S., where two sets of government guidelines issued last week take a lighter touch on regulating AI.

“The future regulatory framework could go further and include a time-limited ban on the use of facial-recognition technology in public spaces,” according to the European bloc’s plan, which was set out in an 18-page white paper by the EU’s executive seen by Reuters.

The European Commission will seek feedback before making a final decision facial-recognition software, Reuters reported, citing unidentified officials. Margrethe Vestager, the EU digital and antitrust chief, is expected to present her proposals in February.

Facial recognition laws and guidelines are being mulled around the world as concerns rise about invasion of citizens’ privacy. A handful of U.S. cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, California, have banned the technology. But private companies are moving ahead with their own surveillance tools.

The ban would provide time for the EU to develop a policy on the technology, which might impose obligations on both AI developers and users, Reuters said. The proposal also states that EU member states should appoint authorities to monitor the new rules. It could provide exceptions for security projects and research and development, according to the document.

  • The German government is planning to introduce the use of facial-recognition software at 134 railway stations and 14 airports after a successful trial run in Berlin, The Guardian newspaper reported. It said the U.K. would be subject to any adopted rule through 2020.
  • France is set to become the first EU country to allow citizens to access secure government websites using facial-recognition software after the parliament recommended a new regulatory framework in July, the Guardian said.
  • The U.S. approach is attracting investors willing to bet on AI’s potential to revolutionize industries from finance to healthcare to manufacturing and education. Last year, 1,356 AI-related startups in the U.S. raised a record $18.5 billion, according to the National Venture Capital Association. 
  • The Trump administration took a light touch approach to AI regulation in two sets of guidelines last week governing use of the technology in driverless vehicles and their use by federal agencies, Politico reported.