Thousand surveillance cameras in Belgrade – for safety or control?

Thousand surveillance cameras in Belgrade – for safety or control?

Thousand surveillance cameras in Belgrade – for safety or control? Izvor: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

In the next two years, Belgrade will join major world cities almost entirely covered by surveillance cameras, to, as the police say, increase safety, or as experts warn, to violate people’s privacy, offering possibilities of abuse, N1 reported.

Thousand of new cameras will cover  800 locations in Belgrade and will be more sophisticated, enabling the face and licences places recognition, making every citizen’s move known to the police.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said the aim was to increase the safety of people and facilitate the fight against crime.

The number of surveillance cameras in Greater London is estimated at 500,000 while the total number of cameras in the UK is around 4,200,000. According to some estimates, the UK has one camera for every 14 people.

However, former Commissioner for Public Information and Protection of Personal Data Rodoljub Sabic is not convinced that will be the only purpose of the surveillance cameras.

“In the country in which the regime has used personal data against its citizens many times, video surveillance looks more like a new way of control than a new way of increasing safety,” Sabic told N1.

The police, however, say the cameras will be used to locate the criminals and terrorists they look for.

But, HI-Tech experts say a hacker could use the system for a showdown with his opponents and the police wouldn’t even be aware of that.

“Cameras will be linked to the Internet, and that’s where they will be vulnerable,” Igor Franc from the Information Technology Faculty said.

The cameras are believed to be purchased from the Chinese Huawei company since Stefanovic had a meeting with a security official from Beijing a year and a half ago after the two countries signed an agreement on technical cooperation in infrastructure.

However, the Interior Ministry failed to answer an N1 question about the cost for the thousand new cameras.

China reportedly offered its experts to train Serbia’s colleagues in using the cameras both at home and in China.

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