The Council of State has just banned the use of drones by the police to monitor demonstrations in Paris. For the higher court, police surveillance by drone cannot be considered “without the prior intervention of a text ”.
No more drones. The Council of State was very clear on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. The higher court has just banned the use of drones to monitor demonstrations on public roads in Paris. Thus, the Paris police chief Didier Lallement “must cease, without delay, carrying out drone surveillance measures for gatherings of people on public roads ”.
As our colleagues from the newspaper Le Monde remind us, La Quadrature du Net had seized the Council of State. The association for the defense and promotion of rights and freedoms on the Internet was concerned about the use of drones “for administrative police purposes ”. The decision of the Council of State comes after several cases of surveillance via drones have already been reported.
Surveillance via drones already used in France
During the first confinement in March 2020, the Nice police had used drones to monitor whether the population was indeed respecting government measures. A month later, in April 2020, Mediapart journalist Brice Le Borgne revealed an order for 651 drones carried out by the Ministry of the Interior, then headed by Christophe Castaner.
For the Council of State, it is impossible to consider the use of drones by the police ”without the prior intervention of a law ” to authorize it and set the terms. As long as such a text has not been voted, it will remain “a serious doubt about the legality ” to monitor populations with drones.
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And justly, this text could arrive faster than expected. Indeed, the controversial law on “global security ” promoted by Gérald Darmamin, the current Minister of the Interior, has just been adopted at first reading in the National Assembly. However, article 22 of this law will precisely determine “the conditions under which public authorities […] can process images using cameras installed on aircraft ”.
Thus, among the provisions enacted by article 22, the police must ensure not to film the interior of homes or their entry in a specific way. In addition, the public should be informed by any means “the implementation of airborne image capture devices ”.
Source: The World