Under coronavirus lockdown, Russia expands surveillance state

In Russia, two human rights groups say Vladimir Putin's government has vastly expanded surveillance to enforce the nation's coronavirus lockdown, using facial recognition technology and collection of personal data. The groups say regulation is required to ensure that surveillance measures are both temporary and proportionate.

From Reuters:

Police say Moscow's 178,000 facial recognition cameras had caught 200 people breaking coronavirus lockdown restrictions by mid-March. The cameras are capable of tracking individuals using just their silhouette and of detecting groups standing too close to each other, according to the firm which supplied them.

The Russian capital has also introduced digital passes which are mandatory for anyone wanting to use public or private transport, a system that authorities say 21 of Russia's more than 80 regions will soon copy in some form.

Agora, a Moscow-based human rights group, and Roskomsvoboda, a digital rights campaign group, said the unprecedented nature of the pandemic meant some curbing of citizens' rights and freedoms was justified.

But in a joint appeal to regional governors they said the expanding surveillance measures had to be regulated to ensure they were legal, proportionate and temporary in nature.

"The authorities … are actively developing technologies to collect personal data including photographs, videos, geolocations, home addresses, car number plates and medical diagnoses," said Pavel Chikov, a lawyer who heads Agora.

Go read the rest of the piece. The quote in the last graf is a stunner.

Russia's lockdown surveillance measures need regulating, rights groups say