Rights groups slam Greece’s biometric policing program

Greece’s new ‘smart policing’ initiative, which involves scanning people’s faces and fingerprints, is ‘inconsistent with international human rights standards for privacy’, the agencies said on Tuesday. international rights watchdogs.

In a report, Human Rights Watch and Homo Digitalis criticized the Greek authorities’ decision to collect biometric information, saying the program was likely to aggravate already existing discrimination.

The EU-funded program will use a wearable device to collect large-scale biometric data and cross-check it with police, immigration and private sector databases, primarily for immigration purposes.

This data will be compared with information already stored in 20 national and international databases.

“The European Commission is funding a program that will help Greek police target and harass refugees, asylum seekers, and minority groups,” Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. The report.

The program, at an estimated cost of 4.5 million euros ($5.2 million), 75% of which is funded by the bloc, will be undertaken by Intracom Telecom, a global provider of telecommunications systems and solutions , which in 2019 signed a contract with the Hellenic Police Directorate of the Greek Ministry of Citizen Protection for the so-called smart police project.

According to the report, even if migrants, asylum seekers and other marginalized groups have documents, police still hold them for hours in order to verify their identity and legal status.

The watchdogs said the program does not comply with either Greek law or European law which states that personal data must be collected and processed lawfully, specifying the “purposes of the processing”.

The smart policing program “will violate international human rights standards or data protection standards enshrined in EU Directive 2016/680”, Human Rights Watch said, warning that the EU should not fund programs that could have serious human rights implications.

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