Sweden’s Courageous Step: Combating Gang Violence through State-of-the-Art Biometric Surveillance

The Swedish government is accelerating its plans to expand police use of advanced biometric systems.

This move, driven by an alarming rise in firearm and explosive-related crimes, has been fast-tracked for examination by the government and a prominent far-right conservative party.

The urgency of this issue has led to an expedited inquiry process, set to be completed in half the usual time. The justice minister assured the findings will be published by spring.

Typically, government inquiries serve two purposes – either to bury a topic or to demonstrate that a proposed action has been thoroughly considered. In this case, it’s clear that the latter is the intention.

A coalition of conservative and right-leaning parties, including the Moderates, Christian Democrats, and Liberals, are joining forces to strengthen biometric surveillance.

While the specific type of facial recognition technology to be used remains unspecified, references to drones and traffic cameras suggest a focus on live facial recognition rather than retrospective analysis.

The inquiry members are considering a range of options, one of which includes a fourfold increase in the number of surveillance cameras available to the police.

If implemented, this would integrate 2,500 new and existing lenses into police facial recognition algorithms by December 2023, an increase of 900 more than initially planned. Additionally, these measures would lay the groundwork for the use of automated number plate recognition (ANPR) by the police.

Reports from Euractiv indicate that drones and road cameras operated by Sweden’s Transportation Administration could also be incorporated into this extensive surveillance network. This idea has been under public consideration since 2019 and was presented to the European Union by government representatives in February.

This month marked a significant shift in surveillance powers. Previously, the Säpo, a national security service, held the majority of authority for public surveillance.

Now, the police have been granted broader powers to use biometric identifiers and eavesdrop to prevent gang crimes, including bombings, murders, abductions, and drug distribution.

Furthermore, surveillance can now be ordered on specific individuals, not just areas, marking a significant change in approach. This move towards bolstering biometric surveillance is a clear indication of the government’s commitment to tackling gang violence head-on.

Sweden’s decision to fast-track the expansion of biometric surveillance in response to escalating gang violence is a bold and decisive move. The collaboration between conservative and right-leaning parties demonstrates a unified front against crime.

This article appeared in FreshOffThePress and has been published here with permission.

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Written by Western Reader

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