Biometrics again in the Draft Law on Internal Affairs
The Ministry of Interior published a new version of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs, the Draft Law on Data Processing and Records in Internal Affairs, as well as a series of other laws from its jurisdiction. The proposed legislation contains provisions regulating biometric surveillance in public spaces. The public discussion on the drafts is open until 31 December.
SHARE Foundation remains absolutely opposed to any use of biometric surveillance in public spaces, regardless of whether it is in a domestic or international context.
The previous Draft was withdrawn from the procedure last September, after warnings from the domestic community and international actors that the adoption of such a law would legalise mass biometric surveillance of public spaces and reduce the rights and freedoms of citizens.
In the meantime, the Ministry organized a series of consultative meetings attended by representatives of SHARE Foundation, #hiljadekamera initiative, as well as other civil society organisations, experts and representatives of the academic community.
- 30 September 2021 – The initial consultative meeting at which the Ministry indicated the need for consultations due to civil society criticism of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs, especially biometric surveillance in public areas.
- 29 October 2021 – Meeting regarding the functioning of the video surveillance system, with special reference to the processing of biometric data, in the context of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
- 21 December 2021 – Meeting on the protection of personal data when using biometric surveillance, in the context of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
- 22 February 2022 – Meeting on the Impact Assessment of the processing of biometric data by the video surveillance system on the rights and freedoms of citizens, in the context of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
- 13 May 2022 – Presentation and discussion on the first draft of the Impact Assessment prepared by the Ministry’s working group.
- 18 July 2022 – Meeting on the topic of other disputed provisions of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
- 30 November 2022 – Presentation and discussion on the second draft of the Impact Assessment prepared by the Ministry’s working group.
SHARE Foundation used these meetings to constantly point out to representatives of the Ministry of Interior the domestic and international legal framework that regulates this area and the risks that the biometric surveillance system carries with it. We particularly emphasised the conditions of necessity and proportionality for the use of such a system, which were not met.
It is particularly important that in May 2022, the Ministry of Interior again prepared a draft of the Impact Assessment of the processing of biometric data by the video surveillance system, on which we submitted comments. The Ministry submitted the latest draft of the Impact Assessment to us in November 2022. Although it accepted a part of SHARE Foundation’s comments on the May draft, certain essential issues were not addressed, which is why we sent comments to the Ministry in December 2022. Impact Assessment on the protection of personal data, approved by the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection is a prerequisite for further consideration of this issue.
During the public debate on the Draft Law on Internal Affairs and other draft laws, SHARE Foundation will analyse the text and send comments with the aim of influencing as much as possible that the text that will be submitted to the parliamentary procedure protects the rights of citizens in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, international standards of human rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and prevent the mass biometric processing of personal data from public spaces. We invite representatives of the civil sector, academic community, expert public, media and journalist associations, as well as all citizens to join the public discussion so that the front against mass biometric surveillance of our streets is as broad and inclusive as possible.