Police handed CCTV camera fine

Greece’s privacy watchdog yesterday fined the police for using traffic cameras to monitor a student protest in Athens earlier this year even though the authorities have been banned from using CCTV systems for monitoring people. The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) fined the police 3,000 euros after finding that 49 of its cameras still do not operate with software that blurs people’s faces. The watchdog also found that images from some of the cameras were also kept for more than seven days, thereby breaking privacy rules. However, speaking to Kathimerini, high-ranking police officers denied that the cameras had been used for anything other than monitoring traffic. They also insisted that anything recorded by the cameras was deleted within seven days. Officers said that not even traffic violations were confirmed using footage obtained from the cameras. There are 550 traffic cameras in Athens but only 198 are actually used by the police. However, arsonists have damaged 110 of these, which means that the police can only use 88 cameras to monitor traffic on the capital’s busy streets. Officers said that it costs around 20,000 euros to repair just one camera but often by the time one is fixed, another is set on fire. Greece spent some 250 million euros on the surveillance package for the Athens Olympics in 2004, part of which consisted of almost 300 CCTV cameras that have not been used since the Games due to the intervention of the privacy watchdog. The government has appealed against the ruling.