At the beginning of 2019, the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (hereinafter: the Ministry) went public with the official announcement of placing more than 1,000 cameras all over Belgrade, located on predetermined locations, based on “research and analysis of the events, primarily the criminal acts on the territory of the City of Belgrade”, according to the statement. The main argument used by the government officials is referencing the contribution to the traffic control, citizens’ safety, and quicker disclosure of criminal acts, which can be accomplished by creating a so-called “safe city”. Also, the Ministry has briefly touched upon the existing resentment of the general public, claiming that there is no reason for citizens to be worried about their privacy being endangered.
Despite the seemingly transparent behavior of the state authorities, as soon as you scratch below the surface, the reality takes a completely different shape; the Ministry provided inadequate and partial answers to the questions raised by citizens’ organizations, which aggravated the already existing concern of the public.
The mere fact that the streets, which are daily jam-packed with citizens, will be covered by new generation cameras that can detect passengers’ faces, brings out the variety of questions about this project and creates numerous possibilities for jeopardizing an entire spectrum of human rights, foremost the right to privacy and right to personal data protection.
In the times when we are surrounded by the newest modern technical inventions and our every need can be fulfilled with only a single click, it appears that the human possibilities are limitless. However, there is a fine line between the positive and negative sides of technological development, which brings out the question: who will prevail in a clash between technology and human rights?