First Success Against Facial Recognition in France

Posted on

Earlier this month, the Administrative Court of Marseille heard our case against facial recognition systems controlling access to two high schools in Nice and Marseille. These systems were authorised in December by the PACA Region as “experimental”. Yesterday, the Court annulled this decision.

The Court found that the Region had no power to take this decision – schools only have such powers. Furthermore, the Court found that it breached the GDPR: these systems were based on “consent”, but students’ consent cannot be “freely given” because of the authority relationship that binds them to the school’s administration.

Finally, the Administrative Court found, just as the CNIL already underlined last October, that facial recognition is a disproportionate measure to control access to high schools. Moreover, alternative measures are way more less infringing to people’s rights. Incidentally, a magistrate stated during our hearing that “the Region is using a hammer to hit an ant”.

In France, this is the first court decision about facial recognition, and the first success against it! We hope it will be followed by a series of other successes leading to the total ban of facial recognition. In December, we published a common letter along with 124 organisations calling for a ban on “any present and future use of facial recognition for security and surveillance purposes”.

Next Monday, we’ll go before the Administrative Court of Marseille, again, to be heard on our case against “smart” video surveillance systems (which target, amongst other, “anormous” behaviours in public space).

Promoting freedom is priceless but has a cost. You’re welcome to donate if you can!