A proposed border law in the German state of Saxony has come under fire from local interest groups, in large part because of the planned use of facial recognition technology along the state’s Czech and Polish borders.
“The planned border surveillance places large parts of Saxony under some sort of state of emergency, and it is an [sic] statement of distrust toward our Czech and Polish neighbours,” said Friedemann Ebelt of Digitalcourage, which released a statement condemning the legislation. “The focus of police work will shift from investigating to surveillance.”
“Even if the stated goal is to fight cross-border crime, we should not overlook the fact that it is a major violation of the rights of everyone who crosses the border,” added Jan Vobořil, a lawyer with the Czech Republic based IURE, which similarly criticized the legislation.
Together with the Polish Panoptykon Foundation, the three groups argue that facial recognition technology is an unnecessary and unjustified invasion of privacy, especially when rolled into a bill that also includes provisions for covert agents and machine guns. The human rights criticisms echo some of those that have been raised in the US, which already uses biometric technology at many airports and border checkpoints.
In Saxony, the law’s critics are asking the government to pursue less intrusive forms of border monitoring, and are demanding that the proposed legislation be abandoned until there has been a proper assessment of its potential impact on human rights.
January 25, 2019 – By Eric Weiss