Greece: Surveillance systems in public spaces constitutes a new legal reality

The long-awaited Presidential Decree no. 75 regulating the use of surveillance systems in public spaces has been finally published on 10.9.2020 (G.G. 173/10.9.2020). This Presidential Decree has been issued following the article 14 of Law 3917/2011, and applies in all surveillance systems (video and/or audio-recording or monitoring) installed in public spaces, to the extent that they process personal data.

The legislator has opted for a technologically neutral definition of surveillance systems so that all relevant technologies can be included therein. The competent data controllers for such operation are exclusively the following state authorities: Hellenic Police, Fire Brigade, and Port Police - Coast Guard. Greek prosecutor has a major role in the operation of surveillance systems in public spaces since it is the competent authority for safeguarding the legitimate operation thereof in compliance with the present Decree.

The Presidential Decree regulates, inter alia, some specific circumstances concerning the operation of surveillance systems of public spaces, such as the following: portable surveillance systems, zoom functionality of surveillance systems, surveillance of public gatherings, and the collection of audio data.

The installation and/or operation of a surveillance system is legitimate only upon issuance of the respective decision, which is notified to the competent prosecutor and contains all necessary information related thereto (i.e. location of cameras, the scope of operation, characteristics of the surveillance system, justification, etc.). Both decisions on the installation and /or on the operation of surveillance systems have to be accompanied by the respective DPIAs. Such decisions can be challenged by application for annulment before the Council of State.

In overall terms, this Presidential Decree fills a significant gap in the national legal framework on data protection, given that the operation of cameras in public spaces remained for many years unregulated regardless of the great impact that it causes on the privacy rights of citizens. As regards the question of whether it can efficiently protect personal data and strike a fair balance between the operation of the enforcement authorities and the privacy of citizens, it remains to be assessed in practice.


By Marianna Katrakazi - Tsibanoulis & Partners, September 28, 2020