Following concerns and criticism at its plans to install cameras in stations, this week Swiss Rail defended its plan, reported RTS.
The train operator said that the cameras, which will record passenger movements in some of its nationwide network of stations, will not record personal data or use facial recognition technology.
Last week, the consumer advocate publication K-Tipp reported that Swiss Rail had plans to install video cameras with facial recognition technology in 57 stations to analyse shopping behaviour starting in September 2023.
Associations focused on personal data protection responded with alarm at the plans and demanded they be axed. Angela Müller from AlgorithmWatch told RTS that she was firmly against the project. Even if the company says it won’t identify passengers the infrastructure will allow them to do it, she said.
Adrian Lobsiger, the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, said the risk analysis Swiss Rail provides is key for us to make a decision on the project.
Swiss Rail says it has been recording passenger movements in key stations for 10 years without collecting any personal data. The new project aims to more accurately establish passenger movements in order to improve the placement of sales points and restaurants and optimise cleaning schedules, safety procedures and construction work. It will also allow better station design and reduce bottlenecks, it said.
Swiss Rail says that under no circumstances will the information be used to sell additional services. In addition, it says data will be anonymised and privacy respected.
Despite assurances from the company, some are not convinced privacy can be ensured. In addition, consumer associations are not convinced that a system capable of recognising personal differences can meet data protection standards.