People living in Malta are more likely than any other EU nation to accept facial recognition in exchange for services from private companies.

Together with Cypriots, the Maltese are also the most willing to share their faces to use public services.

According to a survey by the European Union’s agency for fundamental rights (FRA), while only 6% of people in the EU are willing to share their facial image with private companies, in Malta 33% are comfortable with the prospect.

Similarly, 65% of Cypriots and 50% of Maltese people would share their facial image with a public entity, compared to the average of 17%.

The use of facial recognition has become a global issue as artificial intelligence is increasingly using people’s faces to verify their identity.

The survey asked 35,000 people from the European Union, as well as the UK and North Macedonia, about their views on sharing personal data and measured their awareness of data protection rules.

It was carried out between January and October 2019 and more than 1,000 face-to-face interviews were held in Malta.

27% of European Union residents do not understand terms and conditions

The survey, however, also suggested that people in Malta are more savvy when it comes to mobile phone privacy settings than in other countries.

Here, too, Malta topped the list with 59% of respondents saying they are aware of the settings on their apps. That compared to an average of 41%.

Data protection rules allow technology users many safeguards. These include the setting up of independent public authorities to protect users’ rights such as requiring consent in order to be able to share personal data and the provision of clear information on how the data will be used.

Overall – including Malta – only one in five respondents in the EU said they always read the terms and conditions.

Among those who read the terms and conditions, at least sometimes, 27% of EU residents do not understand them. However, Maltese residents scored high in this case.

While Poland and Greece top the list at 87% and 86% respectively, Bulgaria and Malta both saw 82% of the respondents say they understood the terms and conditions, compared to the EU’s 72%.

In Bulgaria and Malta’s case, 16% said they did not understand the conditions.

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