“Intelligent” cameras not allowed in public spaces, CNIL decides

Faced with the proliferation of “enhanced” or “intelligent” video devices in certain cities, the opinion of the National Commission for Computing and Liberties, whose task is to ensure respect for the privacy of the French public, was particularly anticipated. Because these cameras, with automatic analysis software for filmed images, are much more intrusive than traditional devices. For this reason, the Commission, after a public consultation, published its position on this technology on Tuesday: As the law stands, These devices are not approved for use by government authorities, she says. A legal framework must be provided to draw on”red line”CNIL concluded.

Use that to raise questions

On paper, these devices can be used in public spaces, in a variety of situations listed by Cnil: “Fortrack or trace“of man,”Measuring crowding and using metro platforms or a station“, the “Identification of suspicious events“(Assembly, offenses such as prohibited parking, wrong-way traffic or illegal dumping of garbage, for example) or “abandoned object“, the “Characterization of people filmed (age group, gender, behavior, etc.)“or”Permitting the identification or characterization of people by data processing (…) (colour characteristics of the clothes worn)So we’re talkingBoth statistical and safe use.

Last June, for example, the city of Nice, the cradle of French video surveillance in public spaces, announced the deployment of software based on artificial intelligence that “Eight types of urban mobility will allow for the analysis of hazardous behavior.”, explained by the mayor, Christian Estrosi. With this level of monitoring and processing of collected, automated and persistent data, such technology “New ethical and legal questions“, according to the CNIL.

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Attack on fundamental freedoms

For Cnil, “automated and permanent analysis” rhymes with much more important data collection than when a human was in charge of image processing: “These new video tools can lead to extensive processing of personal data, sometimes including sensitive data. People are therefore no longer just filmed by cameras but analyzed in an automated way in order to, in a probabilistic way, some information that allows, if necessary, to make decisions or to take concrete measures about them.

What are the risks? Common analysis risks to citizens in public spaces and attacks on privacy, freedom of movement and right of assembly. According to Cnil, more generally many basic liberties, individual and collective.

However, he wants to emphasize, the risks are not the same depending on the technology used: “An ‘enhanced’ video device installed in a metro station and intended to study the station’s usage density would present few direct risks to the people present if the device’s purpose was only to generate or adjust and smooth attendance rates. Traffic in real time according to crowd.

Conversely, there are secure devices “For the purposes or effects of decision-making or for outcomes at the individual level“, creates a problem. In the context of identifying a crime and arresting their author on the basis of gender analysis, and even in the context of advertising targeting, there may be a possible violation of the rights of citizens. The presumed age of a person passing by a sign.

Valid and invalid devices

To date, no”Certain texts advocate the use of ‘augmented’ video devicesFor use in statistical purposes, these cameras are “Can already be installed without specific supervision. Cnil cites several examples of situations where their use is considered legitimate: “A device for calculating crowding in a metro that can show passengers taking the least crowded train, provided the results are anonymous”or “Processing that allows the manager to analyze the frequency of a shopping center based on criteria (for example gender and age group of people) to then choose the most appropriate advertisements.

On the other hand, for “Violation detection and prosecution“, the use of this technology by public authorities is not authorized by French law, analyzes Cnil. It specifies: “Before any deployment of such systems managers must clearly define the objectives, which must be defined, clear and valid.

The use of such devices is theoretically subject to compliance with the regulations on the protection of personal data (RGPD and Data Protection Act) which specifically allow “Guarantees people the possibility to oppose the processing of their data“Which seems practically impossible, unless this right of opposition can be waived by establishing a definite legal framework.

The CNIL emphasizes the need to legislate: “Only a specific law, adapted to the technical characteristics and spots in question, can, perhaps, after a democratic debate, decide on their validity and provide a balanced reconciliation between the objectives and the need to preserve public order, setting minimum guarantees. To protect fundamental rights and freedoms.

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