The police may receive photographs of mos.ru users

2021-10-14

“Kommersant” reports that the Moscow authorities are planning to modernize the mos.ru website so that personal photos of the website users are automatically transferred to the police facial recognition system. This may be concluded based on the data of the public procurement portal. The contract for 236 million rubles was concluded between the Moscow Department of Information Technologies and the Perm company “Bright Soft”. In addition, it became known earlier that the capital’s authorities will spend 130 million rubles on improving the facial recognition system.

The Moscow authorities hastened to officially deny this data:

“As part of the development of the mos.ru portal, it is indeed possible for users to upload photographs on their own when filling out applications for a number of governmental services, such as obtaining a hunting license. It should be emphasized that photos cannot be uploaded to personal accounts of mos.ru users. The system for storing photographic images is called “GIS ETsHD”. Moreover, uploading photos is not mandatory when using the mos.ru portal”.

At the same time, DIT (the Department of Informational Technologies) emphasized that the data uploaded to the site is securely protected, and the GIS ETSHD system itself is certified in accordance with Russian legislation.

However, it doesn’t mean that the photographs will not be used by the police for the face recognition system. It is only clear that it will be possible to upload photos to the site, after which they will be transferred to the GIS ETSHD system, which processes the data from CCTV cameras. GIS ETSHD is a video surveillance system, supposedly aimed at increasing the level of security of Moscow citizens. It should be noted that this portal is also used by Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Emergency Situations and city administration services. In addition, even if now it is not planned to use photographs for mass surveillance of citizens, it’s not guaranteed that the regional authorities will not do this later.

The authorities’ political moves towards raising the retirement age, optimizing health care and education, suppressing the social and political rights of workers etc. has provoked a strong disapproval among people. It’s obvious that the video surveillance system is being improved for the police to successfully deal with possible protests of workers. Over time, security forces will be able to quickly identify all participants of protests, rallies and even strikes. The only weapon against arbitrariness tyranny is solidarity and mutual support.