At a time when the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement is under increased scrutiny, Greece is forging ahead with a plan to equip some police officers with portable devices capable of facial recognition and fingerprint identification.
The devices will be connected to national and European databases, according to the Hellenic Police, and officers who carry them on patrols will be able to use them to identify people by scanning their faces and fingerprints.
One of the program’s goals is to identify “third-country nationals who have violated the legal length of stay in the country,” according to a Hellenic Police document detailing the project.
Hellenic Police said in a statement to The World that the program will improve efficiency and officer safety as well as reduce hassle for civilians.
But critics say the project erodes privacy protections. And some warn against expanding police surveillance powers at a time when activists allege police brutality in Greece is on the rise.
“It’s really scary,” said Ali, an undocumented Yemeni artist living in Athens, of the project. His real name isn’t being used because he fears for his safety.
Ali worries about the accuracy of the technology. Studies show facial recognition systems often misidentify people of color and can lead to wrongful arrests and convictions.
And he’s concerned about an increased crackdown on a population that he says is already over-surveilled and over-policed. Greek authorities expect the daily average of police stops to increase under the Smart Policing program, according to police documents.
“It’s difficult,” Ali said about life as a migrant in Greece. “You feel like … someone is [always] watching you, coming after you. And it’s not a good feeling.” Read Full Article >