Just weeks after ordering state-controlled banks to hand over their customers’ biometric data, Russia’s government is now working to pass a law allowing them to do so.
According to a new report from EuroWeekly, Russia’s Duma – the lower house of its Federal Assembly – has passed a bill authorizing the “nonconsensual transfer” of Russian citizens’ biometric data to the government’s Unified Biometric System. The bill appears to be aimed at developing a legal framework for the government’s recent directive ordering four state-owned banks to convene board meetings aimed at determining how they can go about providing their customers’ biometric data to the UBS.
It was an unexpected order that caused some bafflement among banking executives, with one anonymous official having told the domestic business and politics newspaper Kommersant that the order would be “almost impossible to implement” due to the complications of obtaining customer consent.
Not to worry. The Russian government is evidently determined to ensure that it obtains citizens’ biometric data, with the new bill offering the latest illustration of Russia’s transition toward a China-style biometric surveillance state.
Last month, Russian law enforcement authorities used facial recognition systems deployed in the Moscow metro to conduct mass arrests of pro-democracy advocates on the national Russia Day holiday. Soon after that, reports emerged that Russia’s Emergencies Ministry is planning to expand the biometric surveillance network to areas near the border with Ukraine, citing threats of sabotage on civilian infrastructure.
(Ukraine, meanwhile, has been using facial recognition technology provided by the American company Clearview AI to identify defeated Russian soldiers and, in at least some cases, contact their family members through social media channels.)
According to EuroWeekly’s new report, Russian authorities are aiming to use the Unified Biometric System to identify citizens across the Russian Federation, including in remote areas. Ironically, the new bill authorizing the nonconsensual transfer of biometric data includes a transparency provision concerning data leaks. UBS administrators will be required to notify certain authorities of any such breaches within 24 hours of discovery.
Source: EuroWeekly News
July 7, 2022 – by Alex Perala