Tech & Science Five minutes to understand the debate on facial recognition in transport
How Masked COVID-19 Protesters at the University of Miami Got Outed by Their College
As the University of Miami campus filled up again for an uncertain new school year last month, a group of students, faculty, and on-campus workers acted out a grim warning. On Sept. 4, demonstrators lay on the ground as if dead, some of them holding tombstones, while a Birkenstock-clad person in a grim reaper costume patrolled the scene. The protesters were targeting what they said were unsafe working conditions for staff and faculty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Students have the option of learning remotely.
She invited herself to the heart of the health crisis to study the wearing of masks in society. Facial recognition may well survive Covid-19. Valérie Pécresse, the president of the Île-de-France region, pleads in our columns for its deployment in transport, in order to fight against the increase in violence. A proposal that is not new, for a technology that is still so controversial.
What are we talking about?
The president of the Île-de-France region wants cameras to be deployed within the Île-de-France public transport network to identify the perpetrators of delinquency or terrorism. A proposal supported by the Minister in charge of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, this Sunday. "The idea of using artificial intelligence is to detect suspicious behavior, and it is implemented in many countries," said the minister.
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Concretely, this involves installing cameras “at the entrance to RER and metro stations, possibly on platforms, cameras that take pictures of travelers. These cameras would be connected to the file of wanted persons ”, detailed last year Frédéric Péchenard, vice-president in charge of security, within the regional council of Ile-de-France, with. "Thus, among the flow of travelers, wanted, dangerous people are identified and can be arrested before they get on the trains, which remain terrorist targets", he assured.
What does the legislation say on facial recognition?
In France, real-time facial recognition on public roads is not authorized. "The RGPD prohibits the use of facial recognition without the consent of the people who are subject to it", recalled last year, in our columns Cédric O, the Secretary of State for Digital, announcing want to launch "a phase of experimentation, from six months to a year, under the supervision of civil society and researchers ”on this subject.
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It is the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (Cnil) which acts as gendarme on these questions in France. Favorable to experiments in this area, she recalled in a report published in 2019 the importance of several cardinal points: the consent of the targeted persons, the control of data by individuals, transparency, the right to withdraw from the device and access to information, or the security of biometric data.
Do facial recognition devices exist in France?
Yes, in different forms. Since the beginning of October, for example, it has been deployed at Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport, to reduce queues. How does it work? Users of Mona, which is a free service, must first open a customer account through a mobile app or terminal at the airport by adding a profile picture to it. This account will allow them to take a dedicated route on which the gates of the various airport crossing points open automatically on “simple presentation of the face” to a biometric sensor. The government itself was working on the deployment of Alicem, a digital identity application, based on facial recognition. But the project has been at a standstill for a year now.
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Concerning video surveillance, the situation is more complex. After confinement, in Cannes in April, then in the Paris metro at Châtelet-Les Halles station in early May, cameras were installed to measure the importance of wearing a mask among the population. Official objective: to establish statistics to better orient public policies, in particular the distribution of protective equipment.
But the Cnil quickly cooled the enthusiasm of Datakalab, creator of the device. For the administrative authority, no problem on the data collection side, the images (which nobody saw) being deleted almost instantly. But the possibility of expressing one's "right to object" to be filmed, by means of a nod of the head, was not sufficient. "This solution forces individuals to publicly display their opposition to the treatment and places too great a burden on the person, a fortiori if the devices of this type multiply", she argued.
Terrorism: Djebbari "fairly favorable" to facial recognition in transport .
© Europe 1 In the Grand Rendez-vous on Europe 1 on Sunday, the Minister in charge of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said he was "fairly favorable" to the proposal of the president of the Ile-de-France region to use facial recognition in transport in order to fight terrorism. Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Ecological Transition, in charge of Transport was the guest of the Grand Rendez-vous, Sunday on Europe 1.