The use of thermal imaging cameras in administrative buildings is finally allowed

Following a court decision, precisely that of 22 May 2020 by the administrative court of Versailles, it is officially recognized that the use of thermal imaging camera devices (in reference to what was used in the commune of lisses) did not in any way infringe fundamental rights such as respect for privacy, personal freedom and that of coming and going.

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The administrative judge makes this decision on the grounds that "these materials do not, as the state of the investigation, contain any technical device that would prevent, in all cases, that the information collected could lead, for the benefit of a different use than that currently practised, to make the persons to whom they relate identifiable, particularly in view of the body form that appears on the screen. In these circumstances, data that could be used by the disputed treatment must be viewed as personal in terms of health, in the sense and for the application of the General Data Protection Regulation. ».

The data referred to in this decision are according to the rules established by the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD), are sensitive information that cannot be treated by either the State except for force majeure, or for any other organisation until the individuals concerned have expressly consented to it. However, since individuals may decide not to go before the cameras, having the opportunity to take other paths, the administrative judge then inferred that "in view of the voluntary nature of body temperature taking in this case, the fixed camera device in question does not ignore the principle of prohibition laid down by the provisions of Article 9 above the general regulation on data protection. As for portable cameras, their own operating procedures are inherently an obstacle to any imposed temperature capture. In any event, it is neither established nor even alleged, and is not the result of any element of the instruction, that a temperature assessment carried out as a result of their use would not have given rise to the prior consent of the parents of the children, before entering the school and extracurricular buildings, and of the staff framing them. ».

The problem has occurred since 11 May 2020, when the Commune of Lisses began to impose on about 50 municipal agents, working in its administrative centre, but also on all persons who frequent the building where the surroundings of the administrative building submit to a temperature test carried out by a thermal camera installed at the entrance. And that's every time that person gets into it. Thermographic camera is just installed at the entrance to the building that calls itself "The Mechelen". A building that brings together the human resources, accounting, sports and leisure and computer security departments.

When an individual is at the entrance of the building, with a marked distance on the ground allowing the camera to analyze its temperature, the light lights up according to that temperature, whether it is high or not, red or green.

Moreover, this decision is timely insofar as the municipality in question after the acquisition of several portable thermal imaging cameras, with a view to deploying in school and extracurricular zones, to ensure the reception of children and the exit from school. The goal is to be able to check the temperature of all the people who will be present and who will supervise the children. "When the person passes through the beam of the fixed camera, a screen displays a green square, indicating a normal temperature, or a red square, indicating an abnormal temperature, the said squares superimposed on a body shape. When a person passes through the beam of the portable camera, his maximum temperature is indicated, this information is also accompanied by the display of a body shape. ». Explains the spokesman of the commune. Unlike the one installed just in front of the communal building, the passage in front of its cameras will not be mandatory. The provisions were made to allow those who do not want to be subject to this control to be able to escape by taking other paths.

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