Germany’s plans for automatic facial recognition meet fierce criticism

Germany plans to equip 134 train stations & 14 airports with cameras capable of automatically identifying people in crowds


Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer plans to use automatic facial recognition at 134 railway stations and 14 airports, according to a news report published on 3 January. Although official confirmation of the plan is still missing, an alliance between civil society and politicians has called for the banning of this surveillance technology.

According to DER SPIEGEL, Seehofer plans to equip 134 train stations and 14 airports with cameras capable of automatically identifying people in crowds in a bid to expand Germany’s automatic facial recognition system.

Although the ministry has not officially confirmed the measures, a government spokesman, asked by EURACTIV, stated that an amendment to the Federal Police Act was planned to provide the police with “improved technical possibilities and, where possible and reasonable, extended responsibilities”.

And the corresponding draft law should currently be the subject of “internal governmental coordination”.

Call for a ban

But opposition to the plan is mounting. Viktor Schlüter, activist and founder of the “Digital Freedom” initiative, created the “Face Recognition Stop” alliance “to show that many people strongly doubt the effectiveness and usefulness of these proposals,” he explained to EURACTIV.

Activist groups such as Chaos Computer Club and, alongside the media outlet, and also politicians, such as members of Die Linke, are among doubters. On 9 January the group presented its demands to the government.

And they not only demand the alleged expansion of the facial recognition system planned by Seehofer to be stopped but also for a complete and final ban on automatic face recognition in public by the state.

Read more: euractiv