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Russian Patriarch Kirill urges State Duma to uphold ‘fundamental right’ to biometric privacy

Source: Meduza

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is urging the State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin to prevent the discrimination of people who don’t want to share their biometric data with the state.

According to the Moscow Patriarchate’s website, the patriarch wrote to Volodin, asking him to amend the draft legislation on personal information use, citing the 2020 “Holy Synod Epistle” to the Orthodox community, which stressed that “the use of digital identifiers,” “automated decision-making,” and the “collection of personal data, including health information” must all be overseen by public institutions — including the church.

In his letter to Volodin, the patriarch writes that the church is “in solidarity with those experts who insist that no database of personal information, including biometric data, can ever be completely leak-proof.” The Russian Orthodox Church, the patriarch goes on, supports the “fundamental and unconditional right of the citizens to refuse biometric identification, with absolute guarantees of non-discrimination” if they make that choice.

According to the same letter, the ROC has discussed its proposals for revising the law with the Russian Ministry of Digital Development and the dedicated Duma committee for informational policy.

The patriarch points out that the draft legislation had not been presented to the public for open discussion and criticism, and that, given the importance of “maintaining social cohesion,” the Duma should consider amending it in light of the position of the church.

The draft legislation on personal data use was submitted to the Duma on October 12. The bill describes a “unified informational system of personal data” that would gather, process, store, verify, and transmit biometric personal information. The bill is now due for a second reading in the Duma.

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