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Facial recognition used illegally since 2015 by the police and gendarmerie according to investigative media, the CNIL is taking up the matter

The CNIL announced on Wednesday that it was launching “a control procedure” with the Ministry of the Interior, after the publication of information by the investigative site Disclose concerning the undeclared use of software by the police. video surveillance.

According to revelations on Tuesday, November 14, by investigative journalists from Disclose, the police have been using facial recognition software since 2015 even though the law does not allow it. Proof that this matter is serious enough, the National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties (Cnil) announced on Wednesday that it was launching a control procedure against the Ministry of the Interior.

This software is called “Video Synopsis”, it is a tool which allows, thanks to artificial intelligence, to analyze images captured by cameras or drones and to identify specific individuals. In the jargon we speak of VSA for “algorithmic video surveillance”. This software was created by the Israeli start-up Briefcam, now owned by the Canon group.

A deployment without a legal framework?

The information from our colleagues at Disclose, if proven, is explosive because their investigation affirms that from 2015, therefore under François Hollande in the aftermath of the wave of Islamist attacks in Paris, and until today, the ministry of the interior would have deployed this software without any real legal framework in the police and gendarmerie zone. In the public security services of Seine-et-Marne, Rhône, Nord, Alpes-Maritimes, Haute-Garonne, but also in sensitive services such as the Interministerial Technical Assistance Service (Siat), responsible for infiltrations , wiretapping and surveillance of serious crime.

This deployment, according to Disclose, was done without any impact study or any legal framework. The legislator and the CNIL were not notified “and that was intentional” says journalist Mathias Destal, from the Disclose team. “We obtain this information through exchanges which take place internally in writing between several officers, several police officers from different services. These exchanges stipulate, in black and white, that the Briefcam software is used by several services but like this one “being not declared to the CNIL, it is preferable not to talk about it. This means, and this is what an internal source tells us, that anyone in a department with the software which is installed on a computer, he comes with a photo and he does their thing, and that’s the whole problem.”

Gérald Darmanin against facial recognition

According to Disclose, the services concerned have computers dedicated to “facial recognition” and this aid to investigations or public order missions is very easy to use. We contacted the office of Gérald Darmanin, who referred us to the General Directorate of the National Police (DGPN). A way to touch on this eminently sensitive and political subject which affects public freedoms. This is especially true since the Minister of the Interior has expressed his opposition to facial recognition several times in recent months. “Am I for facial recognition? The answer is nodeclared Gérald Darmanin in October 2022 in the Senate during the examination of the text on the 2024 Olympic Games. I had the opportunity to express myself to say that for an Olympic event, as for any event, I am not sure that facial recognition is necessary. Afterwards, this raises the question of what society we want.”

According to information from Disclose, a whole part of the police and gendarmerie have had this tool for a long time which makes it possible to automatically recognize any citizen

Gn Fr France

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