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Society

Greek Police Scheme to Scan Faces, Fingerprints Draws Fire

ATHENS – A Greek Internet protection group said a police program that would scan people’s faces and fingerprints goes against international human rights and is an invasion of privacy that could worsen discrimination.

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“This … is in fundamental conflict with the essence of human dignity and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in public spaces,” said Konstantinos Kakavoulis, co-founder of Homo Digitalis, reported Kathimerini.

“The Greek government should not ignore the high risk this program will pose for enabling unchecked control if it is launched,” he said, joining criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) that it could be used for racial profiling and discriminate against refugees and migrants.

The program, funded by the European Union, will see law enforcement authorities using hand-held smart devices to collect biometric information from people they stop, often without cause, critics said, which could be checked against against police, immigration, and private sector databases primarily for immigration purposes.

“The European Commission is funding a program that will help Greek police to target and harass refugees, asylum seekers, and minority groups,” said Belkis Wille, Senior Crisis and Conflict Researcher at HRW, the paper said.

“In a country where the police frequently demand to see documents without reasonable cause, this program would deliver a tech-driven tool to ramp up abuse,” she said.

The Greek police signed a 4.5 million euro ($5.13 billion) contract with Intracom Telecom, a global telecommunication systems vendor, to help develop the program, 75 percent being subsidizd by the EU.

It was due to begin early in 2021 but was set back by the COVID-19 pandemic that set social distancing requirements and now is scheduled to start in August this year over the criticism.

 

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