It is against the law and harmful for society to introduce the system of smart surveillance in Belgrade.
The system of smart video surveillance is illegal because it restricts freedom and human rights in a disproportionate and unselective way, which is against domestic and international standards and regulations.
The actual purpose of introducing this system has not been clearly defined. The Serbian Ministry of Interior claims that the reasons are greater security of citizens and more effective fight against crime, which are all too general and too low-commitment terms to justify this invasive processing of personal data.
It has not been confirmed that the use of this system is necessary for the operations of state bodies, which is the condition that needs to be met for data processing to be legal (Article 13 of the Law on Personal Data Protection and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights).
This technology’s positive influence on the reduction of criminal offences has been overrated and its use is not proportionate to the risks related to the rights and freedom of citizens. The condition for data processing to be legal is that it must be proportionate to the goal (Article 14, Paragraph 3 of the Law on Personal Data Protection).
The mass usage of the smart surveillance system is illegal due to its problematic legal basis – there is no law that defines that the police have the right to use smart surveillance in public places.
The Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) of the Ministry of Interior does not meet formal and material conditions defined by the law. Moreover, this assessment was not approved by the Commissioner. The DPIA and the opinion of the Commissioner are a requirement prescribed by Articles 54 and 55 of the Law on Personal Data Protection.
The entire process is totally non-transparent; there has neither been a public debate nor a social consensus for introducing the system.
The purchase of the system has been secretfrom the very beginning: citizens have no information which specific technology will be used for this purpose; the total value of this public procurement is unknown; it has also not been disclosed how many cameras exactly there would be and where would they be located. The Ministry of Interior has rejected numerous requests for access to this information.
There are too many unclear and illogical points related to the use of smart surveillance resulting from the contradictory information from the DPIS and statements of police officials.
Introducing such a system involves a great change in the functioning of the society. It is therefore necessary to have a public debate on this topic in order to analyse all positive and negative effects. There has not been such a debate, so both the public institutions and the general public remained deprived of the opinion of experts and exchange of argumentation.
There is no analysis of possible abuse of such a system and no guarantee that cases of abuse will be prevented.
We have already witnessed that the law that regulates the mass surveillance of electronic communications was broken with thousands of cases of unauthorised access to retained data (telecommunication metadata) of Serbian citizens.
The existing video surveillance system turned out to be useless or was used for manipulation in some of the key events of public interest (cases Countryman, Dolievac etc.)