Police in Greece are to be issued new devices that will allow them to carry out real-time facial recognition and fingerprint identification while out on the beat.
The plan to disseminate the new technology is part of the 4.5 million euros “Smart Policing” project announced in 2017 that aims to identify and verify the identity of citizens when stopped by the police. Most of the project costs (75%) are being covered by the Internal Security Fund (ISF) of the European Commission.
Currently, citizens who are not able to provide identification documents when stopped by the police in Greece have to be transferred to the nearest police station for their identity to be verified. By allowing identification in real-time, the new devices will make the identification of citizens more time-efficient.
The goal of the Greek police force is to verify individuals, vehicles and objects in real-time. Doing so will lead to improvements in police officers’ security, reduce inconveniences for civilians and save human and material resources.
Greek police will initially be issued at least 1,000 devices, with an option to deploy a further 9,000 by this summer if the scheme proves to be effective.
The devices, which are similar in appearance to smartphones, will be connected to 20 different databases belonging to international and national authorities, including the Greek Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Europol, the FBI, and Interpol.
In March last year, the Greek non-profit digital rights advocacy organisation, Homo Digitalis, filed a request to the Greek Data Protection Authority (DPA) expressing concern over the legality of the “Smart Policing” project.
Homo Digitalis argued that there is a strong possibility that the Greek police is violating EU laws regarding the processing of personal data laid out in the Greek Constitution, national laws linked to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.