French judges ban police surveillance drones related to Covid-19 compliance rules

19 May 2020
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French top judges banned the use of surveillance drones by police to monitor public compliance with coronavirus-related restrictions, citing privacy issues.

The authorities’ use of drones to help contain the spread of Covid-19 “constitutes a serious and manifestly unlawful infringement of privacy rights,” the court said on Monday.

The Paris-based Conseil d’Etat ruled that drones with cameras can no longer be used until the concerns are addressed, either via a privacy-friendly law or by equipping the drones with technology that makes it impossible to identify the people filmed.

Civil liberties groups La Quadrature du Net and the Human Rights League initiated the legal battle with a lawsuit earlier this month, saying people were being filmed without their knowledge, and with no limits on how long footage could be kept.

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