Plans for CCTV cameras are snapped shut

Government plans to revive the Olympics security system to help deal with any potential terrorist threat were dealt a serious blow yesterday when the country’s privacy watchdog refused to allow CCTV cameras to be used to monitor anything other than Athens’s notorious traffic jams. Police had requested permission to use some 1,000 CCTV cameras to keep an eye on potential high-risk terrorist targets, such as the public transport system, government buildings and embassies in the wake of terrorist attacks in London and Egypt. However, in a ruling made public yesterday, the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) said that the 293 cameras installed in Attica as part of the high-tech security system, known as C4I, for the Athens Olympics could only be used to monitor the capital’s roads. The APPD said that the cameras, along with another 49 that the police were using before the Athens Games, could be used to monitor traffic until May next year, when the watchdog will re-examine its decision. The cameras, along with the main security operations center which the government is also keen on reinstalling, were key elements of the Olympic security package, which cost Greece some 1 billion euros. The Public Order Ministry had been confident of obtaining the watchdog’s approval for stepping up security measures to remain in line with EU demands to tackle terrorism across Europe. The APPD further dented the government’s hopes by ordering police to remove the microphones installed on the poles on which the cameras are positioned, deeming it illegal for officers to record or listen to sound from the streets. Authorities have also been ordered to switch the cameras off when the roads are closed due to public demonstrations and may not adjust them toward any buildings, squares, parks or any places where people might gather. Police sources told Kathimerini that they would wait for the APPD to officially inform them of the decision before deciding what action to take next but did not rule out the possibility of lodging an appeal with the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court. Since the end of the Olympics dozens of the camera have been burned by anarchists.