“Currently, there is no legal basis for the police to deploy facial recognition cameras at Brussels Airport,” Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert, a lawyer specialising in privacy rights, told Belga News Agency on Tuesday.
He added: “At the moment, the law does not provide for the possibility of using cameras with facial recognition.”
However, in Knack magazine, the Commissioner General of the Federal Police, Marc De Mesmaeker, announced his intention to make such cameras available to security officers at Brussels Airport. “We will soon be introducing this technology at Brussels Airport. We have an agreement with the operator and the unions,” the Commissioner explained.
According to Mr Dobbelaere-Welvaert, cameras equipped with facial recognition software are allowed only for commercial use, not for security purposes.
Moreover, he added, facial recognition cameras are not useful without a prior database to compare images – and the only such database that exists is the National Registry. “But the National Registry doesn’t identify people through cameras,” said Mr Dobbelaere-Welvaert.
Mr Dobbelaere-Welvaert did claim, however, that the use of “intelligent” cameras would be legal; these are already used, for instance, in the city of Kortrijk. Thanks to updated software, these cameras are able to detect people with certain characteristics (a red bag, blue shoes, etc.). But they do not directly identify specific individuals.
When contacted for a reaction, the federal police maintained that the current legal framework is sufficient for the installation of such cameras. However, no one was available to provide any further explanations.