The Hamburg committee objects to the use of facial scans by the police




A Hamburg data protection commission, the Hamburgische Beauftragte für Datenschutz und Informationsfreiheit, thinks that the Hamburg police should stop using and using facial recognition software.

The German professor Johannes Caspar, an official of the Hamburg regulator, has officially objected to the use of facial recognition software. According to him, there is no legal basis for the identification technique. The politicians now have four weeks to respond and meet the requirements, otherwise it will probably end in a lawsuit.

It concerns the software Videmo 360 . This is facial recognition software that the Hamburg police deployed during the G20 summit in 2017. The police added 17TB of photos and videos together in a database. This data came from multiple sources: video recordings of various train stations, personal photos of the police, material uploaded by individuals and photos from different media. The software of the company Videmo processes the biometric characteristics, whereby templates of the faces are made.

According to the regulator, this database is used by the police if there are indications that someone has committed an offense. Caspar believes that this creates a new dimension in the form of extensive control options for the authorities. He states that wherever visual material from the public space is available, Videmo 360 can provide an extensive profiling of people. He thinks that the collection of data for the duration of several days and the preservation for an indefinite period and special, now lacking legal provision.

For the time being, the police do not seem to intend to stop using the facial recognition software. In front of the Taz website , a spokesperson for the Hamburg police says that the German Code of Criminal Procedure is the legal basis for evaluating the visual material. According to the spokesperson, this can be regarded as a general investigation operation, in which the software is only an aid.


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