France will use its existing network of surveillance cameras to monitor how many people are wearing masks and track how citizens are complying with social distancing after its coronavirus lockdown is eased next week, according to reports.
The BBC notes that “The resort city of Cannes on the Côte d’Azur has trialled the monitoring software, installed at outdoor markets and on buses.”
Datakalab, the French firm behind the software says its algorithms “can be incorporated into existing surveillance systems in other public spaces, such as hospitals, stations, airports and shopping centres.”
The company claims that the software being installed to work with existing cameras does not violate EU data privacy laws because “No image is stored or transmitted.”
Cannes Mayor David Lisnard said, “This technology doesn’t identify people but just gives us mathematical analysis to meet people’s needs.”
So, essentially, it’s ok to track you everywhere you go to ensure you comply, so long as they don’t keep your picture on a hard drive.
France already announced that face masks will be compulsory on public transport and in schools from next week. The country’s lockdown has been more severe than most, with anyone traveling outside their home needing papers approved by the authorities. Anyone found outside without the relevant documents is subject to a fine of €135 upwards.
The case in France highlights how the framework of surveillance that has already been in place and rapidly expanding for two decades is now being used to enforce the removal of freedoms.
We also recently highlighted how tech companies all over the world are developing more sophisticated tools that will allow law enforcement to more effectively police social distancing rules.
We are so used to surveillance now that for many it doesn’t seem that much more of a change to simply give over total compliance and acceptance of a panopticon world.
Coronavirus was just the crisis need to institute permanent societal lockdown using already existing tools, as well as new technologies that can be slotted into those systems already in place.