The spread of illegal surveillance cameras placed in cities all over Albania is causing concern about the vulnerability of personal data and about the strength of the criminal groups that allegedly put them up.
Experts warn of a concerning situation for personal data that might have been gathered, and about the criminal groups’ strength.
“It is very flagrant – the violation of personal data and the superiority that structured criminal groups have compared with the state,” Erida Skendaj, who heads the Helsinki Committee in Tirana, told BIRN.
Police told BIRN that so far 22 people are under investigation for placing surveillance cameras in several cities that have only recently been discovered by the police.
Over the weekend, 39 illegal cameras were found in Korca and Pogradec, placed illegally by organized criminal groups aiming to gain information and monitor police movements.
Nine people were put under investigation in connection with these. The police operation continued in Dibra and Gjirokastra where a further three cameras were found and two people were put under investigation.
In the Fier region, in the south of the country, 20 illegal cameras were found on Sunday, placed illegally by organized criminal groups. Five people are under investigation.
The operation has been ongoing in several cities and so far 154 cameras have been found in total, placed in public spaces against the law, aiming to control territory and track the movements of the police.
Illegal surveillance cameras put up by crime gangs were first found in the northern city of Shkodra, and then in other cities. Police found 59 illegal cameras in that city.
The installation of such cameras is against Albanian law on “Protection of personal data” and constitutes the crime of “Unjust interference in private life”.
This says the illegal placement of recording devices that expose the private lives of people without their consent is a crime punishable by a fine or up to two years in jail.
Most of the cities being monitored in this way are known for having a high degree of organized crime, with gangs responsible for a series of killings in public spaces, often warning each other with “explosive attacks” and cultivating drugs.