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Moscow subway to deploy facial recognition surveillance system

Source: Russian BBC

The subway cars working in the Moscow Metro will soon be equipped with facial recognition systems, reports the BBC Russian Service.

According to a tender announced on July 9, the Moscow Mayor’s Office is spending 1.4 billion rubles (more than $19.7 million) on the purchase of the necessary surveillance cameras and specialized software. The first stage of the project, set to be completed by the end of the year, will see 1,500 subway cars (about a quarter of the cars in the metro system) equipped with facial recognition. 

The tender in question went to a company affiliated with the head of Moscow’s Transport Department, Maxim Liksutov, the BBC reports. 

Moscow has had a “Smart City” system in place since 2012, which collects data that allows the authorities to monitor citizens’ movements. The citywide surveillance system relies on CCTV cameras set up at the entrances of houses and in public spaces, as well as data collected from mobile phone operators, taxi and car sharing services, and free Wifi points — including the Moscow Metro.

The Moscow Mayor’s Office underscores that the data is analyzed in an anonymized form and then used to improve the quality of city services. However, during the coronavirus pandemic, the system was used to track particular citizens and automatically issue fines for violating self-isolation orders.

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