Several French courts have legalised the use of police surveillance drones in order to “secure” rallies; first being used last Monday during May Day, the controversial technique has been criticised by several NGOs, including Amnesty International.
Remote Control Drone Camera in the Clouds—Montmartre, Paris Source: Creative Commons Flickr
But this recent use of police drones comes under strict regulations; it needs to be authorised by department prefects, who have to justify the use of drones by police forces.
Moreover, drones cannot record sound or film inside habitations. It is also impossible for the police to use facial recognition, and the footage must only be stored for a maximum of seven days, except if a special procedure is required.
Despite the concerns raised by several NGOs, judicial courts in major cities such as Bordeaux or Paris did not rule that the drones had a serious impact on fundamental freedoms.
There were, however, slight differences in a ruling from the court of Rouen, which suspended parts of the decree permitting the use of drones by the police in the city of Le Havre, Normandy.
The judge stated that the prefect’s demand would imply "a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of the freedom to come and go and the right to privacy."
crowd of people during a protest in Paris, France. Source: Creative Commons Flickr