The verdict of the Council of State on the use of drones during the demonstrations is expected this Tuesday, May 16. The Association for the Defense of Constitutional Liberties (Adelico) is at the origin of this legal action.

A decree published on April 19 by the government is at the origin of this decision of the Council of State. It authorizes the use of drones for the maintenance of order. Many prefectures had therefore taken orders to test this technology during the May Day demonstrations. This decree was issued following the law on criminal responsibility and internal security. This text aimed to validate measures previously rejected in 2021 by the Constitutional Council as part of the controversial Global Security Law.

In fact, the decree authorizes law enforcement, customs and military forces to use drones for “the prevention of attacks on the security of persons and property in particularly exposed places and for the security of gatherings” taking place on the public road. This also applies to “the prevention of acts of terrorism, the regulation of transport flows, the surveillance of borders with a view to combating their irregular crossing and the rescue of people.”

Faced with the multiplication of the number of acts of prefectures authorizing drones as a test during demonstrations on May 1, several associations had challenged them, but the emergency administrative judge had validated them. This judgment of the Council of State is therefore above all a means of fixing with more precision the methods of use of these drones.

The decree of April 19 is criticized by Adelico, because according to the association, it: “carries by its very existence considerable attacks on the right to respect for private life, the right to the protection of personal data, the freedom of to come and go and freedom of demonstration. It is therefore essential that the use of drones be framed by the texts in the most meticulous way possible.” Another point is denounced by Adelico: the data from the images can be used for one week after their capture before being automatically deleted unless a judicial authority demands its use.

Jean-Baptiste Soufron, lawyer at the Paris bar and member of the Association for the Defense of Constitutional Freedoms, would like the scope of action of drones to be limited to avoid any intrusion into the privacy of French people as he indicates to Franceinfo May 16, 2023: “A drone, once it is placed at a height, it films over a radius of 600 meters. It records everything it wants. Are the French, today, ready To accept that a police investigator can look out the window and pull back your curtains to see what is going on in your home? I don’t think so.”