“We will have to stop considering citizens as guinea pigs,” said La Quadrature du Net

The CNIL opposes the experimentation of the device in two schools in Nice and Marseille. Benoît Piedallu, a member of La Quadrature du Net, believes that “this technology is unacceptable in our political field” and “should not be used”.

Facial recognition at the entrance of high schools carries too great an attack on privacy according to CNIL, the French police officer of personal data, who opposes Wednesday, October 30 to an experiment that was to take place in two schools in the Paca region , Nice and Marseille. “We will have to stop considering citizens as guinea pigs”, said Wednesday October 30 on franceinfo Benoît Piedallu, member of the Quadrature du Net, one of the associations that have lodged an appeal against this device.

franceinfo: What is the problem with facial recognition?

La Quadrature du Net : There are a lot of problems with facial recognition. Today, it is used in the application Alicem, to make identification, it is used to open your mobile phones … The problem is the habit we take with this technology, to to say that our face may be a key that allows us to access a number of things. But this key, we can not change. It is something that is associated with our body. This poses security problems. In addition, facial recognition can be used in the public sphere to know who is where and when, which poses very big political problems, of generalized surveillance. There is a use of this technology that could be totally disproportionate and liberticidal. What we want is to say now that this technology is unacceptable in our political field, and that it should not be used.

The president of the Paca region, Bruno Muselier, and the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, strongly criticized this decision. Does the CNIL have a delay?

Politicians who want to use this type of technology do not even understand that they are in technological solutionism. They think they can solve political and societal problems with technology, without asking themselves where these problems come from. In addition, they do not understand the role of CNIL, which is not to accompany experiments on future technologies, but to protect the personal data of citizens.

The CNIL has also strongly recommended that Saint-Etienne town hall take a step back on another device, sound sensors installed in sensitive neighborhoods, to alert the police in case of overflow, highlighting a lack of legislative framework. Is there a delay in the law?

On the contrary, the law protects our freedoms and the use of our data. What we see is that the CNIL, we would expect more firm, makes this opinion is non-binding. It is very good that the mayor retreats on these projects, seeing that the police personal data gives him wrong, but it is unfortunate that the Cnil has lost a section of its power. This remains a battleground on the deployment of these technologies. There are smart cameras that are still deployed in Toulouse, Valenciennes, in the same line of ideas: detect events in the public space. The Cnil will have to keep up this momentum by explaining to the mayors that this is not possible. We will have to stop this technological solutionism, and stop using big data and artificial intelligence to follow the citizens, to consider them as guinea pigs, and to consider that everyone is essentially guilty, asking people to prove by their behavior that they are innocent.


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