Civil society organisation AlgorithmWatch has published on its website an article on the use of face recognition technology by law enforcement authorities in European Union countries. Homo Digitalis’s Lefteris Chelioudakis had the honour to participate in this research.

According to the survey data, at least 10 member states of the EU already use relevant application of face recognition, while many countries including Greece have already planned its immediate implementation.

Specifically in Greece, on Saturday 14/12/2019, an official statement was issued on the website of the Ministry of Citizen Protection where is widely publicised that Hellenic Police Directorate has signed a contract with INTRACOM TELECOM company fot the supply of “Smart Policing” System amounting to 4 million Euro.

According to the new technical specifications issue in the context of implementing these measures, as it has been published on Hellenic Police’s website in April 2018 and in particular on pages 5/178 and 147/178 inter alia, one of this measure’s purposes is the delivery to the Greek Police of a software of photography profile recognition, through which the comparison between digital files and pictures of persons will be conducted  in order to identify and verify citizens, vehicles and security documents. In fact, as it appears on page 5/178 of the same document,there’s no such availability of facial recognition as of today. In DIAVGEIA has been published the allocation decision of the results in the public tender for this action in INTRACOM TELECOM on March 2019, while the mentioned company has published the said project on its website in July 2019.

Hellenic Police already participates (from August 2018 till July 2021) in a research programme of of the European Union, named SPIRIT (“Scalable privacy preserving intelligence analysis for resolving identities”), please see available information here.

Homo Digitalis today on December 16, 2019 submitted an open letter to the Minister of Citizen Protection, Mr. Michalis Chrisochoidis  in order to ask more information regarding the contract with the company Intracom Telecom (registration number: 20977/17.12.2019). We also seek additional information so as whether the Ministry of Citizen Protection complies with the provisions of Law 4624/2019 on impact assessments on the protection of personal data, especially bearing in mind the prior consultation with the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (Articles 65 and 67). You can read our letter here.

Also, the contract referred to Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), which according to an article published in the newspaper “To Vima” such technology is already in use since the summer of 2019. We would like to remind you that recently the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled out that the use of ANPR technology by the Austrian police authorities is infringing the national Constitution.

Finally, Homo Digitalis has submitted an official request to the European Union asking for access to information related to the SPIRIT program, in which the Hellenic Police Directorate participates, and the pilot implementation of that project in Greece. You can learn more here.