Individual liberties : towards a trivialization of “smart” cameras in public space ?
With deconfinement, we have witnessed a proliferation of “smart” and thermal cameras in public spaces and places open to the public in order to fight against the epidemic. However, this deployment raises real concerns about the protection of individual liberties insofar as the health crisis legitimizes their use and risks leading to their trivialization.
The current trend is the installation of “intelligent” and thermal cameras in public places in order to detect people whose temperature would be above 38°C. Thus, the use of these devices is justified by the fact that they are considered a better solution for the diagnosis of people with symptoms of the disease, although it is still useful for asymptomatic people. However, the deployment of these cameras in the public places raises major concerns about individual freedom. Indeed, we are witnessing the processing of personal data, in this case health data, by taking the temperature of individuals. The authorities should ensure the high level of protection of this type of data in order to guarantee better protection of people’s privacy.
However, the absence of specific legislation to regulate the deployment of these “smart” cameras opens a door to uncontrolled proliferation. This leads us to a trivialization or even an implicit acceptance of their use without a democratic debate on the subject. It should be recalled that according to the principle, their use is prohibited and, exceptionally accepted depending on the cases defined by the French law on information technology and freedom, the RGPD and the code of internal security. It is in this sense that the Council of State decided on 22 May 2020 on their use, making a major distinction. According to it, if access to a the public place, in particular a school, is subject to a mandatory temperature reading by these devices, then their use must be prohibited. Any automated processing of data must be prohibited because people do not opt in for the use of their data as it was defined in the scope of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act.
In short, while waiting for an article to regulate the use of these “smart” cameras, existing legislative recommendations must be followed. This is the guarantee of a better protection of the privacy of individuals. In addition, individuals should have the right to object and to demand to have their data erased so that they can protect themselves from the impact of such treatment.