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Security vs. Privacy in France - Part 2

This is part 2 of the discussion “Sécurité ou Vie Privée ?” (ed: Security or Private Life) moderated by Mathieu Vidard (MV).  Part 1 may be found here.

Guests :
Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin (IFP) – Vice-president of the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL)
Stéphanie Lacour (SL) – CNRS researcher
Meryem Marzouki (MM) – CNRS researcher
Jean-Luc Dugelay (JLD) – EURECOM researcher
Jean-Marc Manach (JMM) - internetactu.net

MV – Are there topics you are particularly interested since the scope is extremely large ?

Woman in audience - I would like to know about the “1000 camcorders in Paris” project (actually concerning 1226 camcorders in Paris implanted in addition to the ones already deployed today).
Is it possible for the CNIL to self-refer on this issue and call the government and the Paris Town Hall? We know the latter approved the project which is very expensive and poorly efficient. At least, this kind of information circulates at the League of Human Rights. Furthermore, do we have figures about financial fallout for companies offering these technologies, not only the political benefits but also the economic benefits for all these companies?

MM – So IFP, on behalf of the CNIL:

IFP – Indeed these surveillance devices are literally blowing up (confirmed by the referral of CNIL statistics). The CNIL is only competent for a subset of them, located in private areas (in this case, probably not those pointed out), or using biometrics and processing techniques justifying the CNIL mediation. Regarding the surveillance devices on public thoroughfares, the law of 1995 states a prefectural authorization is required to set up the devices making the global legal architecture quite opaque in the eyes of the citizens. As many of them direct apprehensions to the CNIL about video surveillance and video protection, the institution made a proposal to the government for reconsidering these questions, providing with more transparency and strengthening legal inspections as the CNIL today does not have the authority for regulating the prefectural devices.

MV – Are there business figures about these technologies? We are not going to give them in detail as doing so would be tedious. However we know very well for instance how the biometrics market pays today. Who would like to give us an answer here?

JMM – We could not really say where the money goes exactly from academic research but industrials publish market figures. I don’t have the figures in mind but since 2001, all share prices have fallen with exception for security technologies which never stop taking off. The funding of these devices will be delegated to public-private partnerships within the plan of Michele Alliot Marie for tripling the surveillance camcorders. Private companies would be in charge of processing video records helping in identifying suspects within the LOPSI law adoption context. The privatization of this sector is highly topical. More generally, a white paper was published about private security (not only video surveillance) announcing a better capacity in arresting people who are contrary to the law generating in the meantime greater feelings of insecurity. According to the author of the paper, a solution responding to such feeling growth would be an increase of the number of private guards as there will be more technology and less policemen (lay-offs were recently confirmed by police unions). Your question about the market related to security technologies is an excellent one since we should never forget decisions made by politicians with regards to these technologies, always carry deep impacts on the economy. There are fierce lobbying operations behind these decisions. Surveillance tools are let being installed by those who want to be reelected. Nearly all academic surveys about video surveillance show clearly its inefficiency except for some close places like parking lots. In London, the most surveilled city in the world, 3% of the offenders were arrested thanks to the surveillance system.

MV – MM ?

MM – Today (2009) relatively to biometrics apart from DNA (as DNA analysis constitutes another market), the market raises $3.5B and the predictions from an international group of industrials and consultants are around $9.5B in 2014. Even more important than the figures, I’d like to specify which are the sectors draining the market. At the international level, then at the european level and eventually at an operational level in France and elsewhere, we notice a market structured by the government decisions on account of the biometric passport adoption. Opting for biometric id projects will organize the market. Choosing a biometric identifier like the facial recognition (digitized faces) is forming part of the process but also at the international level is brought up the question of picking out fingerprints or eye iris scan as a second identifier. Why does it put up political and economic issues? Simply because of the nature of the world leader in fingerprint technology, our industrial champion: the Sagem Défense Sécurité group. Who was the owner of the patents over the eye iris scan at the time of these discussions held since 2002 in the middle of INTERPOL meetings? Anglo-saxon companies. Consequently, during an INTERPOL meeting in lyon, Nicolas Sarkozy, who was the Minister of the Interior, declared “the fingerprint technology is the French tradition, we are going to keep this technology” (quoted in the press). France and Germany were pro-fingerprint technology and the United Kingdom, in connection with the U.S.A., was in favor of the eye iris scan. These sectors are the ones draining the market.

MV – The tradition following the industry.

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