French court rules drone surveillance by police for COVID-19 enforcement illegitimate

Few judicial decisions exist on the intersection of privacy rights and drone use. However, a French court recently banned law enforcement from using surveillance drones in Paris to assist with enforcement of COVID-19 confinement measures, representing one of the first rulings on the intersection of drone use and privacy law. What does this mean for Canada and other countries?

Summary of the decision

Two human rights groups brought an application alleging that surveillance drones used by French police during their response to COVID-19 were inappropriately collecting personal data, in violation of France’s privacy laws (being The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). Law enforcement used drones to monitor the public’s compliance with COVID-19 confinement measures (which at that time, prevented Parisians from leaving their homes) so that police could deploy intervention resources and disperse or prevent gatherings. The drones flew between 80m and 100m AGL, with cameras operating on wide angle without zoom and without recording video or images.

An appeal decision of a French State Council Judge recently determined that the use of drones for surveillance was against French law (even though a lower court found that the drone use was permissible)….

Keep reading at Dentons Drone law blog.

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Kathryn McCulloch

About Kathryn McCulloch

Kathryn's clients range from Fortune 500 and multi-national corporations to start-up companies and individuals. With a strategic focus on reaching early resolution to claims, Kathryn looks to achieve timely resolution of disputes through alternative dispute resolution tools, including formal and informal mediation. Kathryn’s key areas of practice and knowledge include aviation, drone (RPAS) regulation, banking, estates, commercial leasing and oppression actions.

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Alexandre Toupin

About Alexandre Toupin

Alexandre Toupin is an associate in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution group, where his practice focuses primarily on corporate, commercial and civil litigation matters.

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