A group of senators is trying to advance facial recognition legislation in France. To that end, the senators have filed a report that advocates for the creation of strict facial recognition guidelines, and calls for a three-year trial to help determine how well different facial recognition technologies work when applied to the general public. The government would then be expected to pass more permanent facial recognition laws once that trial is complete.
The report was put forward by Socialist senator Jérôme Durain, Union Centriste senator Arnaud de Belenet, and right-wing Les Républicains senator Marc-Philippe Daubresse, and consequently reflects opinions from across the French political spectrum. All three senators emphasized the need for strong “red lines” that would dictate exactly what is and is not allowed when using facial recognition.
The goal is to enable certain uses of facial recognition, while still guaranteeing the privacy of everyday civilians. For example, facial recognition could be used in large public venues to spot individuals on police watch lists, while automated surveillance tech could search for abandoned packages. The senators suggested that the technology could be an important security tool at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, especially if it helps thwart a terrorist attack.
The report itself comes with 30 suggestions to help authorities run a safe facial recognition trial. It stresses that facial recognition should only be used on a case-by-case basis, and even then only at certain places and at certain times. It also argues that strong legislation will ensure that France does not become a surveillance state.
The Senators are planning to submit a more formal draft bill for a three-year trial sometime in the fall. France already implemented some basic biometric protections in 2019, following a European Union directive with a law that prevents organizations from using people’s biometric data without obtaining their consent. In the meantime, a separate French Senate report suggests that the country should try to learn from (and improve on) the UK’s example, noting that the use of CCTV surveillance networks is much more common in Britain.
France’s privacy watchdog recently ordered Clearview AI to delete the personal information of French citizens after ruling that the company’s data collection practices violate French privacy laws. The European Commission and European Parliament have also started moving forward with a separate data protection bill for the entire European Union.
Source: The Connexion
May 17, 2022 – by Eric Weiss