Court to rule on CCTV cameras

A decision which allows authorities to use cameras to monitor traffic but bans them from spying on potential terrorist suspects is to be contested by the government after the Public Order Ministry lodged an appeal with the Council of State yesterday. The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) ruled in August that the 293 CCTV cameras installed last year as part of the 1-billion-euro security program for the Athens Olympics could not be used to keep an eye on sites that could be considered high-risk terrorist targets. In its appeal to Greece’s highest administrative court, the Public Order Ministry argued that APPD’s decision is unconstitutional, against the European Human Rights Act and illegal since national safety and public order rank higher than the protection of privacy. In August, the watchdog decided authorities could only use the cameras to watch congested roads until May next year when APPD will review the ruling. The decision put a dent in the government’s plans to upgrade its anti-terrorist measures after pressure from the EU in the wake of the July bombings in London. Meanwhile, police arrested five men aged between 26 and 28 early yesterday as they were attempting to set fire to traffic cameras in the area of Dafni, southeastern Athens. Dozens of CCTV cameras have been destroyed by vandals since they were installed for the Olympics last year but these are thought to be the first arrests made in connection with the attacks.