The Senate has called for legislation to regulate facial recognition in public spaces

Access control, tracing of movement on sensitive sites, securing high-traffic events, identification of discarded objects, video protection … the use of facial recognition has unlimited potential. And they raise many questions about the freedom of the people and the technological sovereignty of France, explaining the Senate Law Commission that seeks to frame these technologies. Otherwise, they risk creating a surveillance society, against which a “red line” must be drawn.

In fact, no text controls the use of oral recognition in public spaces and is not a matter of collective moral reflection. Integrated with sensitive data, biometric recognition strategies are governed exclusively by the law relating to personal data, which prohibits GDPR from processing certain cases and individuals without explicit consent: to protect their vital interests or the public interest on an important basis. Only the appropriate government authority may resort to such processing, subject to absolute necessity and subject to appropriate protections for the rights and freedoms of the data subject.

Senators want legislation to ban public or private actors from developing, marketing and using biometric recognition techniques: in particular, human social ratings, human classification (adaptation by origin, religious or philosophical belief or sexual orientation), and emotional recognition.

With very limited exceptions, the Senate also seeks to ban biometric recognition from being used remotely in public spaces, for example, during demonstrations on public highways and near places of worship. This technology must be strictly helpful; Thus, only a special requirement to ensure a high level of reliability of authentication or identification of the persons concerned and the inadequacy of other less intrusive means of security, may allow its use without consent.

In addition, it is essential to provide people with clear, understandable and easily accessible information about the use of biometric recognition technology. All of these uses do not pose the same risk to independence, which must be taken into account once the legislative framework is in place. The Senate proposes that legislation be approved by the legislature so that, on a case-by-case basis, acceptable use of public space – in accordance with the principles of accessibility and necessity and proportionality.

The Commission may require biometric recognition devices on public roads to be previously approved by a Magistrate or Prefect (for use by internal security forces) or Cnil (for installation by a private actor) in accessible places. Public). In addition, Cnil will be systematically consulted for any deployment for public use and will receive an impact analysis for its feedback.

The use of biometric recognition by individual actors requires public consent and should be extremely limited. In addition, the Senate seeks to prohibit any identification by private actors based on real-time or delayed biometric data.

A total of thirty steps have been recommended, including the creation of a European trusted third party, to encourage the ethical development of quality technology in France and Europe. By ensuring our technological sovereignty, citizens’ data control will be strengthened.

It should also be noted that the European Data Protection Board (EDPS) has recently adopted guidelines for establishing a legal framework for oral recognition technologies used by law enforcement and judicial authorities: prevention, investigation, prosecution and enforcement of criminal offenses. It is in public consultation until June 27, 2022.

Mary Gassnier

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