French watchdog condemns police for unlawful use of drones to patrol lockdown


  • World
  • Thursday, 14 Jan 2021

PARIS (Reuters) - French data privacy watchdog CNIL condemned the Interior Ministry for the unlawful use of drones to oversee demonstrations and make sure people were respecting the COVID-19 lockdown.

In a decision made public on Thursday, the authority stressed that the use of such tools by the police nationwide broke the law in the absence of any regulatory framework.

In a statement, the interior ministry said it acknowledged the CNIL's decision, and would respect its terms.

The CNIL started investigating the use of camera drones by law enforcement last May. It found the ministry had not used mechanisms to blur the faces of people filmed by the drones in demonstrations or walking in the streets during lockdown.

This was a breach of French data privacy rules, the CNIL said, as such individuals could be easily identified in the filmed images, which were then stored by the police.

The interior ministry has since told the CNIL that blurring systems were put in place, but the authority said they could be turned off.

"This mechanism does not necessarily prevent the identification of individuals as long as the services of the ministry of the interior are able to deactivate blurring," the authority said.

At no point has the public been properly informed about the use of camera drones by the police, the CNIL said, adding it had reminded the interior ministry it should obey the law.

Thursday's move came after a decision by the top administrative court that forbade the use of camera drones by police in the absence of a proper legal framework.

A draft security law, which triggered fierce debate in France over press freedom, would substantially increase the legal use of surveillance tools, including drones.

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Giles Elgood and Clarence Fernandez)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
   

Next In World

UK's Labour suspends lawmaker for saying Kwarteng 'superficially' Black
Trudeau starts tour of storm-hit Atlantic Canada as power outages persist
India flags visa concerns to U.S
Zelenskiy says he discussed further military assistance with NATO chief
Quebec's incumbent Legault ahead in next week's election polls
Prosecutor leading probe into missing Mexican students resigns
Gang blockade cripples Haiti fuel supplies, hospitals prepare to close
Slovak parliament approves NATO membership for Finland, Sweden
Border-crossing asylum-seekers hit six-year high in Canada
Lula challenges Bolsonaro's grip on Brazil evangelical vote

Others Also Read