Nice, Marseille schools suspended for facial recognition privacy violations

Occurred: October 2019-

A facial recognition technology pilot project at two high schools in Nice and Marseille to control access to the entrance gate has been suspended by the French data protection authority (CNIL). 

NGOs, teachers’ unions, and parents had waged a campaign against the project, with AccessNow arguing it would have been able to use students as training subjects for their systems, thereby further eroding their privacy. 

The French DPA then determined the project could not be 'implemented legally', a ruling disregarded by France's Mar du Sud region, which attempted to roll out the project by labeling it 'experimental'. 

In February 2020, in a case bought by French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, the Administrative Court of Marseille ruled (pdf) that the region had no power to take this decision, and that only schools have such powers.

It also said that the EU's GDPR had been breached as students’ consent could not be 'freely given' because students could not give free consent as the school’s administration is acting as the higher authority.

System 🤖

Operator: Les Eucalyptus high school, Nice; Ampère high school, Marseille
Developer: Cisco
Country: France

Sector: Education

Purpose: Register attendance

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy

Transparency: Governance; Legal; Privacy

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️