Technology 3 min read

France to Implement a Nationwide Facial Recognition ID System

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

France is set to become the European Union‘s first country to implement a national facial recognition ID system.

According to reports, President Emmanuel Macron and his government have already approved the ID program. Initially slated for December, the program is now scheduled to be rolled out next month.

The French government believes that the new identification system will give its citizens an extra layer of security on the Internet.

Called the Alicem, short for “certified online authentification on mobile,” the application will enable its users to prove their identity online in a more secure manner.

Alicem will work by reading a chip implanted in an electronic passport. Then, the app will cross-check the photo on the passport with the person’s facial recognition data to validate his/her identity.

Once users successfully passed the face ID validation, they will gain access to several public services without the need for further security checks.

France’s Facial Recognition ID System Violates EU’s Rule of Consent

While the French government’s intention for implementing the facial recognition ID system sounds good, many are still opposing it.

According to France’s data regulator CNIL, the program violates the EU’s rule of consent. Another privacy group, La Quadrature du Net, is also challenging the program in France’s highest administrative court.

“The government wants to funnel people to use Alicem and facial recognition,” Martin Drago, a lawyer for La Quadrature du Net, said.

“We’re heading into mass usage of facial recognition. [There’s] little interest in the importance of consent and choice.”

Alicem was tested by the government for six months, citing that its security is at the “highest, state level.”

However, a breach in the French government’s secure messaging app last April only raised concerns for the state’s security standards.

New ID System Compromises People’s Privacy

Parties opposing the program worry about the privacy of French citizens. They believe that the collected facial data could be used by the government to track protesters.

But, the French government said that the facial recognition ID would not be used to spy on citizens. The interior ministry claimed that all the facial data collected will be deleted once the validation process is over.

Unlike China and Singapore, France claims that it won’t integrate its facial recognition ID program with its citizens’ database.

Aside from France, other EU countries like Germany, The Netherlands, and Italy have been using facial recognition to expedite border checks.

Read More: Amazon To Pitch Own Facial Recognition Laws To Lawmakers

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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