Buenos Aires personal data sharing, facial surveillance

Released: April 2019
Occurred: April 2022

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The city of Buenos Aires' Fugitive Facial Recognition System or Sistema de Reconocimiento Facial de Prófugos (SNRP) is a system comprising approximately 300 cameras on public roads, subway and train stations intended to identify people wanted by the police.

Introduced in April 2019, the SNRP was governed by a cooperation agreement between the Buenos Aires Ministry of Security and the Ministry of National Justice which allowed access to the National Consultation on Rebellions and Captures (Consulta Nacional de Rebeldías y Capturas) database of approximately 40,000 individuals wanted by the national authorities.

In April 2022, Judge Andrés Gallardo discovered through a legal injunction that the City of Buenos Aires Government had also signed a side deal with Argentina's national ID database – the National Register of People or Registro Nacional de las Personas (RENAPER) that enabled authorities across the country to access data held by Buenos Aires city, and vice-versa.

In total, the personal data of 9.9 million people, including the country's formers presidents Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Alberto Fernández, and numerous journalists and business people, was accessed between April 2019 and March 2022.

Media reports also revealed that Buenos Aires leaders had proposed making available to the national executive facial recognition cameras for identifying poverty demonstrators considered a potential threat to the government.

Reaction

The SNRP system and its governance was roundly criticised and was the subject of a high-profile lawsuit by multiple prominent civil rights organisations for inadequate governance, abuse of privacy, and poor transparency.

The system was suspended by Judge Gallardo in April 2022. He also demanded a report on the data sharing by the Buenos Aires authorities and how the facial images have been used.

In September 2022, the SNRP was declared 'unconstitutional' by Buenes Aires Judge Elena Amanda Liberatori.

Transparency

An appeal (pdf) by the Observatorio de Derecho Informático Argentino (ODIA) accused the SNRP of a lack of transparency concerning the personal data to be collected and used.

In October 2020, the Buenos Aires authorites had been accused by Human Rights Watch of using facial recognition to identify children accused of committing crimes.

Operator: Government of the City of Buenos Aires; Buenos Aires City Police; Argentine Ministry of Justice and Security; ReNaPer
Developer:
Danaide/NtechLab

Country: Argentina

Sector: Govt - municipal

Purpose: Identify criminals

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Surveillance; Dual/multi-use; Scope creep/normalisation; Appropriateness/need

Transparency: Governance; Marketing; Privacy

System

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