A Russian court ruled Tuesday that facial recognition technology does not violate the privacy rights of its citizens.
The Russian government has partnered with Ntechlab to provide facial recognition software. Ntechlab created the app FindFace, which can be used to identify random individuals with 70 percent accuracy. All that is needed is an individual’s photograph and social media account. Chiefly, FindFace utilizes Vkontakte, a Russian social media network similar to Facebook.
The country has already spent $50 million dollars on hardware to operate the technology. Over 105,000 surveillance cameras have the software.
The plaintiffs in Tuesday’s ruling argued that the surveillance software violates privacy rights. Specifically, the software allows for the mass collection of data that could be monitored by authorities without any suspicion of wrongdoing. The plaintiffs also point to the Russian government’s history of abuse. The government responds by claiming that it is needed to stop and resolve criminal activity.
The ruling comes after a summer with widely covered demonstrations in Moscow. More than 1,300 individuals were arrested. Organizers protested against the decision of election authorities to prevent opposition candidates for running for local elections in the city. Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that unsanctioned protestors will be given jail time.
Kirill Koroteev, one of the lawyers in the case, stated that “this ruling shows there are no legal defenses for facial recognition complaints.”