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Video protection software used by the national police hides a facial recognition function

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Apr18,2024

 Video protection software used by the national police hides a facial recognition function

Girardet/Unsplash/France-Soir If private company devices equipped with augmented cameras conceal facial recognition options, can we really rule out their biometric use?

TECH – Presented as an intelligent video protection device, the Video Synopsis software from the Israeli company Briefcam hides a facial recognition option that can be activated in a few clicks. This is what reveals ainvestigation carried out by the investigative media Disclose, which questions the real use of this functionality, despite the assurances given during the vote of the OJ law in March 2023.

Algorithmic video surveillance is used to identify crowd movements or behavior deemed abnormal using artificial intelligence and automatically report them to law enforcement. It is this device which was authorized by Parliament in the run-up to the Olympic Games.

Video surveillance using facial recognition, for its part, uses biometric data. Software identifies facial features from images. This system is only authorized with very rare exceptions, during judicial and administrative investigations, or border crossings.

France just a few clicks from facial recognition 

The investigation by the investigative media Disclose reveals that the Video Synopsis software is deployed throughout the country. Indeed, the Israeli company Briefcam would equip the municipal police of nearly 200 municipalities, but also the judicial police services, the police headquarters of Paris and Marseille, public security and the National Gendarmerie.

< p>Until last May, “intelligent video” could only be used exceptionally. However, with the arrival of the Olympic Games, Parliament voted for large-scale testing of these cameras until March 2025. The Ministry of the Interior would therefore be entitled to use Video Synopsis, since Briefcam presents it as a “simple” algorithmic video surveillance software.

Except that the media Disclose tells us that in reality, a facial recognition option is integrated, and can be activated in a few clicks. Are Gérald Darmanin’s services refraining from using it? In any case, this is not what the Caen administrative court thinks, which ordered the city of Deauville on Wednesday November 22 to erase personal data acquired via this device.

Inevitable biometric use?

During the vote on the Olympics law in March 2023, the executive proposed using facial recognition to secure the Games and the millions of expected spectators. The parliamentarians did not want to take the plunge, preferring instead the option of intelligent video, less intrusive to freedoms in their eyes.

However, if private company devices equipped with augmented cameras conceal facial recognition options, can we really rule out their biometric use? This investigation certainly raises the question.

When the Minister of the Interior was interviewed in the Senate, on October 25, 2022, on security issues in the context of the Olympic Games, he nevertheless questioned the use of biometric recognition. “This raises the question of society that we want, we must accept a certain amount of risk, even if this debate is always difficult to hold. I am not sure that we have the means to guarantee that it is not used in other ways afterwards,” he admitted.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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