Russia introduces ‘Orwellian’ metro payment system

Commuters on the Moscow metro can now pay for their journeys by glancing at a camera in what has been described as an “Orwellian” surveillance tool.

Face Pay lets users look into a camera at turnstiles in the capital’s 241 metro stations instead of using a card.

Digital rights groups have criticised the system, noting weak data protection laws, leaks from government databases and concerns that existing surveillance is being used to track and arrest opponents of President Putin.

There are more than 200,000 face recognition cameras in Moscow. Activists say their main use is to keep tabs on citizens and not, as the government claims, to catch criminals.

“They say these cameras are installed for our safety, but they are really building a database that tracks who you talk to and for how long. Your entire social circle will be identified. It’s definitely being used mainly for political purposes and against dissidents,” said human rights activist and opposition politician, Alyona Popova.

“All information will be securely encrypted. The camera on the turnstile reads only the biometric key, not the actual image of the person,” Maxim Liksutov, the deputy mayor, said.