European policy think-tank the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) has warned that Russia’s government has seized control of biometric data belonging to the country’s citizens.

CEPA wrote in a blog post that the Kremlin had assigned “state system” status to the country’s uniform biometric database (UBS). The system aims to confirm identity in online banking and primarily consisted of bank clients’ facial images and voice samples.

The organisation said that now that the country’s primary biometric database is fully under government control, the authorities can seek to corral people into handing over their data, expand the types and uses of such data, as well as filter out and take over commercial databases.

CEPA noted that in November, President Vladimir Putin said that only the state should have full “responsibility for biometric data collection” to ensure its security, and that it should also regulate access by third parties.

Only a month later, parliament adopted amendments to the Law on Information that did just that. UBS was declared a “state system,” giving the government full control, including regulating access to it, while Rostelecom remains its operator. The Digital Development Ministry is working to transfer commercial biometric databases to the UBS.