Moscow public facial recognition system challenged in court

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A lawsuit brought by a Moscow resident Alyona Popova is seeking to ban the use of facial recognition in the city, where it has been used to identify and bring charges against peaceful protesters, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

Popova is a lawyer and prominent women’s rights advocate, and said she decided to launch the suit after being identified at an April 2018 protest against a lawmaker accused by several women of sexual harassment.

“Apart from the lawsuit, we’ve decided it’s necessary to launch a broad public campaign,” she wrote online, according to RFE/RL. “Even if, with our legal system, we lose the lawsuit to Moscow, we will go further. We demand a federal ban on the use of this technology.”

An online petition started by Popova on October 7 was approaching its goal of 1,000 signatures as of press time.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the matter concerns security services, and that “facial recognition technology is widely used currently in the majority of countries in the world. It is a system that has proven itself to be efficient in ensuring security, finding criminals, preventing terrorist attacks,” according to state press outlet Tass.

Moscow has an extensive public surveillance network which could reach 200,000 cameras by the end of the year, and has been used to detain 152 people from public events, according to a recent report.

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