From Iceland — Chinese Embassy In Iceland May Be Breaking Privacy Laws

Chinese Embassy In Iceland May Be Breaking Privacy Laws

Published October 5, 2020

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Security cameras outside the Chinese embassy in Reykjavík appear to be overlooking a larger area than the confines of its plot boundaries, Vísir reports.

If this is the case, the surveillance may be violating privacy laws. The cameras drew the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who has contacted the Chinese embassy directly, suggesting that the cameras need to be moved.

This morning, a statement was posted on the Data Protection Authority’s website, saying that they received a tip last week on the electronic monitoring by the Chinese Embassy on its premises at Bríetartún 1, Reykjavík. It refers to the cameras as covering an “unnecessarily wide area” in many places around the building.

Other embassies may be investigated

The Data Protection Authority sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that, in light of the rules on foreign law, the institution cannot take further action in the case. Helga Þórisdóttir, director of the Data Protection Authority spoke about the case on radio program Bítin, saying, “What is interesting is that we have strong domestic institutions nearby. It is not far from the office of the National Commissioner of Police, and the chief of police in the capital area is close by. The bottom line is that we are really looking into it.”

When asked if there could be a similar situation in other embassies in Iceland, notably the U.S. embassy, Helga stated that the suggestion at the moment was only about the Chinese embassy. However, it may become necessary to examine the surveillance cameras at other embassies in the country.

The Chinese embassy has sent an enquiry into the matter.

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