Italy's privacy watchdog rules SARI Real-time facial recognition unlawful

Occurred: April 2021

Italy's privacy regulator said the SARI Real-time facial recognition system used by the country's Interior ministry was illegal on the basis that it lacked a legal basis for processing biometric data.

Italy’s data protection authority, the Garante, issued an opinion that the Ministry of the Interior’s use of Sari Real-time failed to comply with EU privacy legislation. The authority also said it created 'a form of indiscriminate mass surveillance.' 

SARI Real-time uses cameras installed in a particular geographical area and is capable of scanning individuals’ faces in real-time. These images are then compared with an Italian government watch-list database of up to 10,000 faces. The database is available to law enforcement upon request.

The banning of SARI Real-time coincided with #ReclaimyourFace, a campaign by European rights organisation the EDRi calling for the banning of biometric mass surveillance across Europe. 

Developer: Parsec 3.26/Reco 3.26
Country: Italy
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Strengthen law enforcement
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy
Transparency: Governance

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