Forthcoming judgment on Glukhin v. Russia (Case no. 11519/20 before the European Court of HHRR)

Standards in relation to the right to privacy and family life

There is an important set of international standards applicable to biometric technologies in relation to the right to private and family life, including data protection. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in his report on the right to privacy in the digital age highlighted the concerns over the use of biometric data, its potential to be “gravely abused” and States embarking on biometrics-based projects without “adequate legal and procedural safeguards in place.” (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, The right to privacy in the digital age, A/HRC/39/29, 3 August 2018, para 14.) The report recommends that States, inter alia, “[e]nsure that data-intensive systems, including those involving the collection and retention of biometric data, are only deployed when States can demonstrate that they are necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim.” (Ibid., para 61)


The applicant, Nikolay Sergeyevich Glukhin, is a Russian national who was born in 1985 and lives in Moscow.

The case concerns the authorities’ use of facial recognition technology against Mr. Glukhin following his holding a solo demonstration in the Moscow underground on 23 August 2019. He had in particular been identified, located, and arrested after traveling with a life-size cardboard figure of Konstantin Kotov, a protestor whose case had caused a public outcry and attracted widespread attention in the media, holding a banner that said, “I’m facing up to five years … for peaceful protests”.

The applicant complains that his ensuing administrative conviction for failing to notify the authorities of his protest breached his rights under Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the Convention. In addition, relying on Articles 6 (right to a fair trial) and 8 (right to respect for private life), he complains that the proceedings were unfair because there was no prosecuting party and that facial recognition technology had been used in the processing of his personal data

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