Have the national police illegally used facial recognition since 2015? Various procedures launched since the revelations of the Disclose site on November 14 aim to answer this highly sensitive question.
“The acquisition of Briefcam software (the Israeli company cited by Disclose, Editor’s note) is not immediately synonymous with illegality, specifies Mathias Moulin, deputy secretary general of the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (Cnil) . For an infringement to be established, it will be necessary to prove that features such as algorithmic image analysis or real-time facial recognition have been activated. » This is the whole objective of the “control procedure” launched by this independent authority on November 15.
Five days later, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced that he had requested an administrative investigation into this matter, which concerns his own services.
The next day, LFI deputies said they were “in the process of taking legal action” and called for a parliamentary commission of inquiry. “On this subject, forming a political majority with the right risks being more difficult than in daycare centers,” however, recognizes LFI deputy Aurélien Saintoul.
In fact, algorithmic video surveillance (VSA), which can include facial recognition but more broadly concerns the automated detection of “suspicious behavior” (abandoned package, start of fire, wrong-way traffic, immobile individual, etc.), does not cause outrage. not the crowds.
The sociologist Olivier Aïm (1) observes that this technology may well be banned in France, but it is “omnipresent in speeches, the horizons of the smart city, fictions… As a result, it becomes a niche subject of protest, with actors specialists who place themselves above all on a legal level.
At the forefront of these actors is the association for the defense of digital freedoms La Quadrature du Net, which has for years been listing the numerous French municipalities that have deployed VSA “on an experimental basis” for their municipal police, taking advantage of a legal void. . The legal framework, established in May for the first time, turns out to be extremely circumscribed: it only concerns the 2024 Olympic Games, for security purposes.
Unable to multiply legal recourses on its own, La Quadrature du Net had until now had to “choose its battles”: Marseille or the Isère commune of Moirans, on which the Council of State must rule very soon.
Since the Disclose investigation, other actors (such as the Human Rights League, the Magistrates’ Union, that of French lawyers, etc.) have presented summary proceedings before the administrative courts of Nice, Roubaix, Caen… The latter court ordered, on November 22, the erasure of personal data acquired via the Briefcam software in the community of municipalities of Deauville and Trouville. Further decisions are expected in the coming days. While awaiting the conclusions, not for several months, of the procedures launched against the Ministry of the Interior.