Last week, the European Union officially adopted the Artificial Intelligence Act, marking a significant milestone in the governance of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. The new AI Act now also incorporates the search for missing persons. This addition, which was advocated for by AMBER Alert Europe, the European Centre for Missing Children, marks a significant change in utilizing technology for the good of society.

The AI Act, celebrated as the first of its kind globally, aims to set a comprehensive framework for AI use. It has received strong support within the EU, with a vote tally from the European Parliament showing 523 in favor, against 46, and 49 abstentions. This broad endorsement underscores the EU’s commitment to leveraging technology for solving pressing social issues, such as finding missing individuals.

Providing Law Enforcement with New Tools

AMBER Alert Europe’s persistent advocacy efforts led to a critical enhancement of the AI Act, allowing law enforcement agencies to use ‘real-time’ remote biometric identification in public spaces. This capability is intended to assist in locating missing persons and potential crime victims, marking a transformative development in investigative methods. By enabling quicker and more precise identification processes, this technology promises to revolutionize the search for missing persons.

The EU’s Commitment to Finding Missing Persons

The decision to incorporate missing person searches into the AI Act builds on the earlier adoption of the Prüm II regulation, which already included provisions for missing persons. Thanks to AMBER Alert Europe’s efforts, Prüm II now supports the automated exchange and comparison of DNA profiles, fingerprints, and other vital data. This enhances the ability of law enforcement agencies to efficiently search for missing individuals and identify unidentified human remains, promoting a more unified and effective approach.