Electronic eyes lose their bite

One day after police said they had secured the approval of Greece’s privacy watchdog to activate nearly 300 Athens road cameras, a series of crippling restrictions regarding the system’s use were made public yesterday. The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) issued a list of 10 conditions under which its approval had been issued – observing that the decision only applied until the end of May 2005. The 293 CCTV cameras were installed during the Olympics as part of the 1-billion-euro security system while also helping manage the capital’s traffic flows. Foremost on the APPD list was the stipulation that the cameras could only be used to monitor traffic. This restriction even applies in the case of recorded criminal activity. Furthermore, the system cannot be used to record sounds – which is within its capabilities – and therefore all installed microphones must be removed. The cameras must be switched off during demonstrations, while all recorded data must be erased after a week.