Highest French court forbids police drones in fighting COVID-19

According to the Agence France Presse (AFP), the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, has ruled that Parisian authorities can no longer use drones to track people violating social-distancing rules. Two French human rights groups – the Human Rights League and La Quadrature du Net – have filed a case against  drone flights in Paris. The Conseil d’Etat argued that drones’ cameras could let police identify individuals on the ground, and thus create ‘risks that could be used contrary to personal data protection rules’. In order to use aerial drones, the decision stated that the French government would need to issue a decree setting out conditions of their use and secure approval. The privacy group La Quadrature du Net considers this decision a ‘major victory’ against drone surveillance, as it ‘sets as illegal any drone equipped with camera and flying low enough, as such a drone would allow the police to detect individuals by their clothing or a distinctive sign’.