the Constitutional Council validates the bill aimed at ensuring competition, including the use of algorithmic cameras
Environmental deputies and LFI had seized the institution, considering that this technology “brings serious attacks on the fundamental freedoms of coming and going, of demonstrating and of opinion”.
The Constitutional Council validated, on Wednesday 17 May, the vast majority of articles of the bill adopted in view of the 2024 Olympics in France, including the experimentation of algorithmic video surveillance, subject to two reservations.
Definitively adopted in mid-April by Parliament, this bill defended by the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, provides for numerous measures aimed at guaranteeing the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2024 Among these, the controversial use of images from cameras and drones to power algorithms that would automatically alert the authorities of a potentially risky “event” (movement of the crowd, abandonment of luggage, etc.). The complete list of events to be monitored must be fixed by decree.
Ecologist deputies and La France insoumise had seized the Council, considering that this technology carried “serious attacks on the fundamental freedoms to come and go, demonstrate and hold opinions”and that the legislator had rejected it on the basis of a decree.
Arguments that did not convince the Constitutional Council: believes that the legislator has pursued an objective of “prevention of violations of public order” and set time limits for this experimentation. “The compliance with the Constitution of this device can then be re-examined” at the end of this experiment, the Sages point out.
The experiment could start as soon as the law is promulgated and will concern the “sporting, recreational or cultural events which, due to the extent of their participation or due to their circumstances, are particularly exposed to the risk of acts of terrorism or serious threats to the safety of persons”. Each use of the technology must be subject to prefectural authorization for one month, renewable under certain conditions. The trial period must end on March 31, 2025.
No facial recognition
The Sages, however, expressed two reservations. Each use of the technology must be subject to prefectural authorization for one month, renewable under certain conditions. The prefect will have the obligation to do so “immediately withdraw an authorization whose conditions (…) are no longer met”the Constitutional Council said.
Events under surveillance must also “to be detected without recourse” to facial recognition or biometric techniques, a government commitment, but which does not reassure elected officials or left-wing associations (Amnesty, Quadrature du Net, etc.), opposed to the use of this technology.