• A decree dated February 13 authorizes Bercy to use data published by taxpayers on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) and marketplaces (eBay, LeBonCoin, etc.).

  • "This automated monitoring only concerns data made public by users, not" private "content," explains Adrien Aulas, lawyer specializing in digital law.

  • This massive collection of data accessible online gives rise to many fears in terms of respect for the privacy of taxpayers.

“Big Brother is watching you”… With the publication of the implementing decree on February 13, Bercy has just obtained the last green light for the implementation of an algorithm aimed at scrutinizing the publications of taxpayers on social networks in order to detect possible tax fraud.

Platforms and marketplaces, which are full of data such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LeBonCoin, eBay or even AirBnb, will now allow the tax authorities to obtain any evidence of fraud.

“It is a device that was enacted in article 154 of the 2020 finance law. It took a little time for the implementing decree to be published.

Today, we are concretely addressing the implementation of this experimental device, which will take place over three years.

During this period, the objective will be to verify the feasibility and the relevance of this data mining system which aims to increase the detection of certain violations of the tax law.

And at the end of this experiment, we will know if the system will be renewed in a sustainable manner, ”explains Adrien Aulas, lawyer specializing in digital law.

Why implement this algorithm?

Until now, the tax authorities could only cross data from its own files (bank accounts, capitalization and life insurance contract files, national asset database) and files from other administrations. French or foreign.

"The implementation of this algorithm is today a necessary tool to deal with changes in society" and "the limits of our current detection systems", explains the tax administration.

This device aims to target certain frauds: trafficking in contraband products, narcotics, but also taxpayers who engage in large-scale trade without declaring it via LeBonCoin or eBay for example.

"The implementation of this algorithm will also be used to determine whether a tax domiciliation is fraudulent, by using the location data of publications on social networks", explains Mathias le Masne de Chermont, lawyer specializing in the protection of personal data.

Based on Instagram's geolocation table, justice thus established in 2019 that Johnny Hallyday was a French and non-American tax resident.

By analyzing the singer's publications between 2012 and 2017, it emerged that he had spent 151 days in France in 2015, 168 days in 2016, and the last eight months of 2017. “The tax authorities will now also be able to rely on this information to initiate tax adjustments ”.

What data can be collected?

The decree published in the Official Journal in mid-February details how the tax administration and customs will be able to collect this data.

Article 154 refers to “freely accessible content on the websites of online platform operators, clearly made public by their users”.

Bercy specifies for its part that "only content relating to the person who has deliberately disclosed them and whose access does not require entering a password or registering on the site in question, may be collected and used" .

Content published "privately" will therefore not be affected, confirms lawyer Adrien Aulas, thus emphasizing the importance of properly informing the confidentiality parameters of his various accounts on social networks.

"Comments," likes "and other sharing of third-party content can also not be taken into account, nor information disclosed by a user on the profile of a taxpayer."

The data collected can be of various kinds, it could as well be a photo posted on Facebook which shows a heritage more important than that declared, or a tweet which betrays an undeclared professional activity.

“At this stage, we do not know precisely which indicators will be taken into account by the algorithm, which still has to go through a training and learning phase.

But it should be based on indications of location, writings, images, photos, sounds or videos likely to characterize an offense, ”confirms Mathias le Masne de Chermont.

The surveillance of social networks by Bercy, a liberticidal measure?


- 20 Minutes (@ 20Minutes) October 7, 2019

What are the risks for privacy and the protection of personal data?

This massive collection of data, which focuses on items publicly accessible online, raises concerns about taxpayer privacy.

“That's the whole point of this new device.

There is indeed the risk of too broad data collection which would systematically infringe the privacy of citizens ”, explains Adrien Aulas.

“There are points for possible improvement in the current system.

But in general, everything is very framed.

The system has been scrutinized several times by the CNIL [an impact assessment on data protection is also planned], and has been validated by the Constitutional Council ”.

"The hotel where you spend your vacation does not interest us," says one on the side of Bercy, which tries to reassure by specifying "this algorithm is monitored by the officials of the administrations concerned, and that they ensure the correct how the data processing works (…) It is the agents who trigger any checks, not the technology ”.

The data collected will be destroyed after 30 days if they do not present proof of a breach.

Users will also have the possibility of having access to the information collected concerning them, and will have a right to rectification or erasure of this data.

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