More than a year ago, La Quadrature du Net filed an appeal against a contract signed by the prefecture of Orléans that authorizes the experimentation of sound sensors in public spaces. Last summer, the county defended its private surveillance by adopting the spiel strategy: telling as much nonsense as possible to confuse the administrative court. We just replied to him.
As has already been done in Saint-Étienne, Marseille, Paris or Moirans, the aim is to overthrow this new Technopolice project. This is yet another harmful device from a start-up, Sensivic here, which uses the greed of certain elected officials for total surveillance of populations as a marketing springboard.
In October 2021, we learned that the city of Orléans had signed a according to the company Sensivic to experiment with “sound sensors” in its population. In line with what was attempted in Saint-Étienne, the project consists of implanting “abnormal sound detectors” (a sweet expression for “whistleblowers”) in surveillance cameras.
The idea, under the terms of the convention, is ” constantly analyzes ambient sound to be able to detect anomalies » and thus direct the cameras or the police towards the source of the noises considered « abnormal » by the microphone. In short, link to automatic visual surveillance, already massively implemented in our cities, sound surveillance. Pending odor monitoring, as mentioned in 2020 in a white paper by the Ministry of the Interior?
Sound monitoring will not pass
Cameras, microphones, all driven by an alleged “artificial intelligence” to erase all traces of abnormality in our cities… (the Parisian security fair), but it is also purely illegal. This is what we have been trying to show the Orleans administrative court for over a year now.
For this, we have a very similar precedent: the CNIL already considered illegal a sound surveillance project implemented a few years earlier in Saint-Étienne. It is in particular on the basis of this analysis by the CNIL that we attacked the Orléans experience, filing not only an appeal before the administrative court, but also a claim before the CNIL to force her to take a stand.
If the proceedings before the CNIL have not yet been concluded, the Orléans City Council, on the other hand, communicated its defense before the administrative judge last summer. We just answered.
Don’t say “microphone” but “air vibration detector”…
Orléans’ strategy is simple: in order not to have to apply the personal data law protection rules that it knows not to respect, the municipality tries to convey the idea that its surveillance system would not process personal data. And by a magic trick, to make all the criticisms about the dangers of this monitoring disappear.
The debate is very similar to what we have observed since these surveillance devices were documented in our Technopolice campaign: communities (but actually behind companies that dictate their defense arguments to the attacked community) that refuse to submit to personal attacks data law, or any rule that protects fundamental rights.
Orleans is a typical example. This way, the city refuses to see the Sensivic company’s product qualified as microphones and prefers to speak of “air vibration sensor”. It cannot be invented. The autarchy thus thinks that it will lose the judge and the CNIL by inventing its newspeak and prefers empty words that make it forget that it is a permanent and total surveillance of the public space.
The palm of the hand of absurdity nearly goes to the city’s assertion that ” It should be specified that the digital processing is performed by a “firmware” code, that is, embedded in the electronic processor, and not by the “computer” code used in conventional computers. It is therefore digital electronics. Competition in the race for legal and technical aberration was, however, stiff.
Worse ! The city of Orléans’ speech before the courts is in contradiction not only with the very terms of the previous agreement (the agreement we are attacking speaks of “sound sensor”), but also with the official communication from Sensivic, which explains to communes on its website that “your cameras can now have keen ears”.
The entire legal analysis of the city of Orleans is actually based on two useless documents. The first comes from an “independent” laboratory and declares, through a crude argument from authority, that the company’s products would be “GDPR compliant”. But how can one believe in the objectivity of a laboratory paid by a company to deliver a document certifying a product to potential buyers? Especially when does your opinion go directly against the law in this area and the previous opinions of the CNIL?
The second is a letter from the CNIL that says the exact opposite of what Sensivic wants to demonstrate.. The CNIL recalls precisely its position already expressed in Saint-Étienne that: such a sound sensor, associated with a video surveillance camera, is likely to cause a disproportionate attack on privacy and freedom of expression.
In short, yet another start-up that thinks it has found a profitable business by increasing population vigilance, despite any political or legal considerations – and for that it receives support from both public authorities and administrations.
Watching people makes money
However, and without worrying in the least about the authorities (who used to encourage her), Sensivic, the company that works with Orléans on this surveillance, has quietly prosperedcontinuing to accumulate projects and funding for its sound surveillance business.
Proudly showcasing their surveillance products at Viva Technology, the start-up benefited from raising more than 1.6 million euros in 2022 from a group of investorsincluding BPI (Banco Público de Investimento), a faithful investor in the worst Technopolice projects (including the TestWe monitoring software, sanctioned a few weeks ago by the administrative jurisdiction).
On its website, the startup also announces 1,542 detectors installed in France, Belgium and Switzerlandit is a team of 12 employeesall dedicated to the implementation of sound surveillance in our streets and cities, combined with the existing video surveillance.
All this gravitates in a small world of surveillance companies, lobbying associations and funders well acquainted with each other.. Sensivic exchanges on Youtube with another security-oriented start-up, two-me (which sells image analysis solutions) discussing emotion analysis, continuous space monitoring and financial partnership. Both are also members of the same associations of surveillance professionals, including the AN2V (National Videoprotection Association), and both are supported by the “Comité Stratégique Filière Sécurité”, a kind of lobby for the security industries. security officially supported and encouraged by the state.
We hope to win this new dispute, before the administrative jurisdiction and before the CNIL, to put a new brake on the extension of the Technopolice. After the victory against student surveillance software TestWe, this would be encouraging news in the upcoming fight against the 2024 Olympics