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17 Sep, 2020 16:45

Big Brother for sale: Moscow woman sues city authorities after 'buying data' on her own movements from dark web

Big Brother for sale: Moscow woman sues city authorities after 'buying data' on her own movements from dark web

A Moscow woman is suing the city's mayor's office and demanding that it stops using a facial recognition system on the Russian capital’s streets, after she bought data on the dark web about her own movements.

Anna Kuznetsova filed a lawsuit for 100,000 rubles ($1,300) of compensation, after she found a person selling data online and anonymously ordered information about herself. Kuznetsova works for Roskomsvoboda, a project which promotes freedom of information and privacy on the internet.

"She sent a photo, and two days later received a report for the previous month with detailed information about where her face was recorded," said Kuznetsova's lawyer, Ekaterina Abashina. "Almost all of the addresses matched the girl's actual movements. It cost 16 thousand rubles ($210)."

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With a small payment, anyone can get information about any other person's movements, according to Abashina, who called it a serious violation of the right to privacy. Kuznetsova wants the city to stop using facial recognition systems.

The allegations have been refuted by Moscow's Department of Information Technology, which claims that recordings by the city's surveillance system are just "pictures" and do not contain citizens’ personal data.

Moscow has one of the most extensive and sophisticated surveillance systems in the world, with over 193,000 cameras installed around the city. The camera recordings are all sent to a single storage center. According to the department, only authorized employees there have access to the data.

Despite assurances from Moscow authorities, the Department of Information Technology has previously been accused of having a lack of control over its data protection. As well as issues with the security of the cameras, switches, and servers, cybersecurity expert Ashot Hovhannisyan told Russian newspaper Kommersant that it is possible to pay for an account online to watch the surveillance feeds in real-time.

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"On the black market, accounts are sold that provide access to the single storage center, where you can view both the live camera and recordings," he said. "The cost of an account is about 30 thousand rubles ($400)."

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