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French regulator clarifies facial recognition position

French regulator clarifies facial recognition position

France’s National Commission on Computing and Liberties (CNIL) has issued new guidance on the appropriate use of biometric facial recognition to comply with the country’s privacy and human rights protections, TV5Monde reports.

The French personal data watchdog sets out several requirements for facial recognition deployments and trials in the report, pointing out a voluntary trial for access control at Nice Carnival as an example of an acceptable practice, and deployment to schools as an unacceptable one, according to a Google translation of the article.

In late October, CNIL blocked the deployment of facial recognition to high schools in Nice and Marseille.

CNIL says consent, control of data by data subjects, transparency, the right to withdraw from the service, access to and the security of biometric data are all important to meeting the regulatory requirements. The agency also warns against the normalization of facial recognition.

“In this report, many interesting things are said about the problems of acceptability, complete questioning of anonymity, completely abusive uses,” recognizes advocacy group La Quadrature du Net member Sylvain Steer. “But we feel that the Cnil is caught between the goat and the cabbage, she has good intellectual intuitions but lacks some political courage to lead them even further.”

“There is always a balance to be made between security opportunities that are real, and at the same time being very attentive to the gear in terms of public freedom. It is perfectly normal that the Cnil be very vigilant on this kind subject,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told Franceinfo.

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