France: Legal action against police facial recognition technology


La Quadrature du Net are taking the French state to court for allowing the use of facial recognition technology on a database containing more than eight million individual images.

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Our legal action against the use of facial recognition by the French police (La Quadrature du Net, link, emphasis added):

"We already spoke about it last year: the French government is trying to make us believe there should be a national public debate on facial recognition. However, facial recognition is already well set up: the city of Nice experimented last year a facial recognition program on its street. In French stations and airports, automated entry gates called “Parafe” are already in use with facial recognition. And it will be the cornerstone of the new digital identity program called “Alicem”.

This deployment is even more visible with the TAJ criminal file. This file contains, beside an outstanding number of information, images of people “involved” in a police investigation: guilty individuals, but also non-guilty individuals for of whom pictures are kept in the database, against their will.

According to a report from the Parliament and the French data protection authority (CNIL), 19 millions of files and 8 millions of images are saved in this database.

Article R40-26 of the Code of Criminal Procedure explicitly allows the police and the “gendarmerie” (military police) to use facial recognition on these millions of images.

The creation of the database for French biometric ID (called “Fichier TES”) increases the risk. This new TES database, for which the access is widely granted to the French law enforcement with the Intelligence Act, will regroup the entirety of France’s citizen’s ID card and passport pictures. These evolutions could allow the police to move further in its use of facial recognition and hence proceed to a true biometric massive surveillance."

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