Groups oppose EU funding of Romanian intelligence agency's facial recognition data program

European privacy groups have voiced opposition to a planned surveillance data project that would significantly expand the technology capabilities of Romania's domestic intelligence service.

The program, SII Analytics, would enable Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) to identify its citizens through facial recognition technology and allow the agency to intercept online communications, according to a letter signed by the groups.

The letter was signed by four groups, ActiveWatch, Association for Human Rights in Romania (APADOR CH), Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI), and Legal Resources Centre. The groups said the surveillance system violates privacy and personal data protections contained in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The project received EU funding, the letter said.

The Romanian intelligence agency said SII Analytics “does not collect new data but analyses [existing data] based on algorithms,” according to a Google translation of an SII Analytics statement.

The privacy groups said the facial recognition and communications interception aspects of the project indicate that “the project actually has a purpose and unreported - that of generalised surveillance of the entire population.”