The dispute over the use of a facial recognition software in the investigation of the riots on the sidelines of the G20 summit is coming to a head. Hamburg data protection officer Johannes Caspar has arranged the deletion of the biometric reference database, in the so-called face of thousands of citizens ‘ fingerprints are captured digitally. The procedure interfere significantly in the freedom of rights of many people.

The police had used for hunting criminals during the G20 summit in the summer of 2017, in Hamburg, a program for image evaluation. On the Basis of a total of 100 terabytes of image and video material so, as of September 2018 could be identified, only three persons.

in August, Caspar, had complained in a so-called data protection legal complaint, for the use of the database lacked a legal basis. SPD interior Senator Andy Grote dismissed the complaint.

Since the Software was to be used, is now the adoption of a legally binding arrangement required, told not to hit Caspar’s authority now. “In the rule of law is not all it is legally permissible, what is technically possible, just because it seems appropriate,” he is quoted in the message.

Caspar criticized the automatic facial matching for some time as the rule of law inadmissible. The database contains in addition to the police’s own footage of operations including video recordings from the buses, trains and train stations, as well as media materials.

This includes private footage from Smartphones, which put citizens on a police-style Portal. In total, there were about 32,000 photos and Videos. Caspar criticized: “On the admissibility of such a novel investigation methods alone has to decide the legislature.”

Johannes Caspar

The security authorities captured the difference and anlasslos people in a biometric method, with the behavior, movement patterns and social contacts through a temporally and spatially non-bounded window reconstruct. Including mass detention of people who had been suspected in no time a criminal Offence. Besides, no one will be informed of the collection, there is also no judge of title.

The dispute over the database, could now land in front of the administrative court. First of all, the arrangement had to be examined, said a spokesman for the Department of interior. “Should be found therein, but no arguments that were not included in the previous legal opinion, we will appeal.”


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.