Members of the European Parliament regarding mass biometric surveillance: Respect the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Serbia

On Tuesday, December 20, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) addressed the Prime Minister of Serbia and the Minister of Interior regarding the Draft Law on Internal Affairs, which legalises mass biometric surveillance of public spaces. The letter, signed by nine MEPs, emphasises that such practices would be unacceptable and incompatible with the norms of international protection of human rights.

“For the preservation of democratic rights and freedoms, it is vital that people can live their lives without fear of being tracked and profiled using their most sensitive data”, the letter states.

The right to privacy, protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 8), requires that the authorities monitor a specific person based on a specific, legitimate interest and well-founded suspicion, the MEPs remind. In contrast, the indiscriminate surveillance of public spaces, which are of importance for participation in public life, carried out without reasonable suspicion, knowledge and freedom of choice, affects the entire society.

European parliamentarians point to a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on privacy in the digital age, published in September 2022, which warns against biometric surveillance and calls on world governments to limit and ban practices that threaten human rights. It is also stated that the European Parliament adopted a request to ban the practices of mass biometric surveillance.

The letter expressly supports the call of the SHARE Foundation and other civil society organisations to remove provisions on biometric surveillance from all draft laws, in accordance with the standards of personal data protection and full respect for human rights. “We urge you to consider the rights and freedoms of citizens and residents of Serbia, in addition to your obligations under European and international law”, the letter concludes.

The letter was signed by Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (France, Greens/EFA), Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Germany, Greens/EFA), Patrick Breyer (Germany, Greens/EFA), Kim van Sparrentak (The Netherlands, Greens/EFA), Tineke Strik (The Netherlands, Greens/EFA), Karen Melchior (Denmark, Renew Europe), Thijs Reuten (The Netherlands, Socialists and Democrats), Matjaž Nemec (Slovenia, Socialists and Democrats) and Sergey Lagodinsky (Germany, Greens/EFA).

The MEP letter can be found at this link.