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Claim filed against Russia at European Court of Human Rights for mass surveillance during Moscow protest

Source: RBC

Opposition politician Vladimir Milov and public figure Alyona Popova have filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the mass use of facial recognition surveillance during a rally in Moscow on September 29, 2019.

The protest in question saw more than 20,000 people rally in support of protesters and political prisoners arrested during the lead up to the 2019 Moscow City Duma Elections. The authorities had sanctioned the protests, but attendees were forced to pass through metal detectors equipped with CCTV cameras. 

According to RBK, Milov and Popova stated that this rally was the first mass event in Russia that saw the use of continuous rather than targeted facial recognition. They consider this practice illegal and previously appealed to Moscow courts, but their lawsuits were dismissed. 

In their complaint to the ECHR, Milov and Popova stated that the mass use of facial recognition violates several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the articles on the right to freedom of assembly and the right to privacy. The complaint also notes that the use of mass surveillance was not politically neutral or commensurate with the rally itself; law enforcement hadn’t received any information leading them to believe that the protest would turn violent.

Kirill Koroteev, the head of international practice at the “Agora” human rights group and the lawyer who helped prepare the lawsuit, told RBK that this is the first complaint of its kind against Russia, and at the level of the ECHR.

There is no information about whether the data collected was then used against anyone, but “this isn’t the topic of the dispute,” Kirill Koroteyev told RBK. “Although [the Moscow government’s Department of Information Technology] claimed that there were no such cases, and tried to reduce the dispute to this.”


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