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Live Demonstration Uses Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition at the Horizon Robotics Show in Las Vegas on January 10, 2019. DAVID MCNEW / AFP

After China and India, France starts facial recognition. It will become the first European country to use it. The National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) has ruled illegal the use of facial recognition in high schools. But the context seems to favor the development of these technologies in France.

" Experiencing facial recognition is necessary for our industry to progress. This statement by Cédric O, Digital Secretary of State at the newspaper Le Monde , challenges. Facial recognition scares many citizens, but the French authorities seem to be more and more favorable. The first example is Alicem, for Certified Online Authentication on Mobile. This application that involves making videos of his face to connect to it. These will be linked to the biometric data of the user's passport. The CNIL claimed that this technology should be optional. A request that the Ministry of the Interior did not take into account who experiences it. Alicem should see the light soon.

Business, Security, Surveillance Camera

This application is just one of the possible uses of facial recognition. Didier Baichère, MP for La République en marche (LaREM) calls for a debate on the use of these technologies. " There are not only negative elements to the use of these technologies, but the citizens were not consulted. We need to know the social acceptability of the subject. "

The elected representative of the majority, author of a note on this subject details the range of possibilities: "Quickly, there are three cases of use. Flow management applications, in the sense of airport, trains, to access its means of transport more quickly. Security applications : during a police investigation a judge can request access to videos. And finally business applications : pay with his face, etc. "

Defenders of computer freedoms fear the widespread use of these technologies. " It's a step towards a surveillance society that you do not want to go to, " explains Baptiste Robert, a cybersecurity specialist. The man named Elliot Alderson on Twitter in reference to the Mr. Robot series, believes that taking the first step in terms of facial recognition can be extremely dangerous. " This remains extremely hypothetical, but technically if you ask the entire French population to take a video of his face, you have a huge data set that allows you to create a perfect facial recognition algorithm. "

At present, these technologies remain largely perfectible. In early July a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the probability of recognition differs according to skin colors.

The " double speech of the French authorities "

La Quadrature du Net , an association that defends the freedoms on the internet, considers that the French legal framework is insufficient to develop the facial recognition. Martin Drago, his lawyer explains the various fights that the association leads against this technology. " We have a recourse against Alicem against biometric portals in high schools , it can not be implemented because it is not provided by law, the RGPD is not enough. On this point, the CNIL recently ruled in favor of the association and denied the South region the implementation of biometric facial recognition doors.

Martin Drago denounces the "double speech of the French authorities", who offend the Chinese surveillance company, but push for the expansion of the use of technology in France.

"At a gendarmerie show on face recognition, many companies and communities who wanted to work on it, say that the framework is too strict, the lawyer laments. While in China and Singapore, they can test them on a database of people's faces. We are talking about facilitating by a decree or a law the experimentation so that the industrialists can do it. "

To read also: San Francisco prohibits the use of facial recognition to his police

Technology already under test

Many tests are born in France, in Nice on the occasion of carnival or at airports. Intelligent surveillance cameras are being tested in Toulouse and Yvelines. A situation that does not scare MEP Didier Baichère : " Finally, there are so many human biases with videoprotection, today with facial recognition, we can not lift the human bias as control at the facies. "

To implement these technologies, you need a database. The Secure Electronic Titles (TES) file already contains the biometric data of all citizens. " Today, this file does not allow to be used for facial recognition, but if the government wants to change this, with a decree and an opinion from the CNIL and the Council of State, it is possible. " Says Martin Drago.

The file of antecedents of the judicial treatment, which gathers several millions of French condemned, can already be used for the facial recognition a posteriori . During events, for example, people in this file can be recognized on surveillance cameras.

Paris 2024 goal

If there is one point on which detractors and followers of technology agree, is that the efforts for the establishment of facial recognition clearly target the Olympic Games 2024 . " I do not imagine that if the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 the facial recognition is set up, that France does not propose technologies at least as innovative for Paris 2024. " According to Didier Baichère, this would make it more fluid. arrival of sportsmen and spectators. La Quadrature du net fears that the legal framework will become more relaxed, and that facial recognition will become more widespread.

Listen and read too: Facial recognition: a technology still far from being developed in London