Serbia’s Personal Data Protection Commissioner is opposing the Ministry of the Interior’s plan to acquire a powerful new surveillance tool. The Interior Ministry had hoped to procure facial recognition technology from Sweden’s Griffeye before the end of 2021, but has not yet managed to complete the purchase.
However, Data Protection Commissioner Milan Marinovic believes that the Ministry is still pursuing the technology, largely because he thinks the technology is too enticing for the police. As Balkan Insight reports, the Interior Ministry has consistently tried to expand its access to surveillance tech, most notably with a September 2020 Draft Law that would have legalized biometric video surveillance. That Law was eventually scrapped due to intense public backlash, but Marinovic’s latest statements indicate that that has not deterred the Ministry’s acquisition efforts.
The problem, according to Marinovic, is that the system the police want would not even be legal based on Serbia’s current privacy regulations. In addition to basic facial recognition, the Griffeye Analyze DI Pro solution automatically downloads and analyzes vast amounts of personal information, and cross references photo metadata with GPS location data to give the police the ability to track citizens people in real time.
“We are talking about a global threat that I do not like,” said Marinovic. “The software can also physically track you. In Serbia, we do not have the right to such a sophisticated type of data processing of citizens.”
Griffeye already provides facial recognition services for Europol, and has done so since 2019. The company claims that its solution can produce a face match using only the subject’s eyes, which would ostensibly give it greater utility in a masked environment.
The battle over surveillance in Serbia is in keeping with trends being observed in other parts of the world. Police forces have consistently tried to expand their surveillance powers, while legislators and privacy watchdogs have tried to limit their ability to track citizens in real time.
Source: Balkan Insight
April 12, 2022 – by Eric Weiss