The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection (Úřad pro ochranu osobních údajů) is currently evaluating the legality of a facial recognition software used by the police. The police are justifying its use based on paragraph 66a of the Police Act. However, critics argue that this law lacks necessary rules to protect data from misuse. Both members of the Pirate Party and the independent organization Iuridicum Remedium have pointed out that police do not have sufficient legislative support to use this program.
The new technology has raised concerns because, until recently, the police had not explained how and why they use the program. Policeman Jiří Hradský warns that the software could have a high error rate and could incorrectly identify individuals. Hradský believes that the law needs to be amended. On the other hand, constitutional lawyer Jan Kudrna believes the current legislation is sufficient. However, the Office for Personal Data Protection has been working on a new methodology for camera systems since April this year.
The facial recognition program has sparked controversy due to fears about individual freedom, especially if the system could be misused to monitor people in real time. The Czech Police have been criticized for using facial recognition without proper legal backing. Lawyer Jan Vobořil from Iuridicum Remedium argues that the law, as it currently stands, does not provide the police with the right to use such a system and suggests a new legal framework is needed.
Despite these concerns, the police insist they are acting within the law. They state that they compare photographs obtained in various ways with records from documents such as ID cards, passports, or driver’s license registry. Constitutional lawyer Jan Kudrna thinks that potential misuse is adequately prevented by current legislation, which sets sanctions for those who exceed their authority. The police further defend their use of the technology by stating that it has helped solve several serious crimes.