In a significant development, the French data protection authority, CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés), issued a formal notice to School 42 on September 16, 2021, regarding their excessive video surveillance practices. This article aims to provide comprehensive insights into the incident and its implications.
What is CNIL?
CNIL, established in 1978, is an independent administrative authority in France. Its primary responsibility is to enforce data privacy laws concerning the collection, storage, and usage of personal data. CNIL possesses the authority to investigate and penalize organizations violating data protection regulations.
School 42: An Overview
School 42 is a renowned private computer programming school situated in France. Founded in 2013 by Xavier Niel, a prominent French billionaire businessman, and entrepreneur, the institution offers free education in computer programming to students aged 18-30.
Details of the Incident
The complaint against School 42 was lodged with CNIL in March 2021, alleging the excessive use of video surveillance on its premises. After an extensive investigation, CNIL discovered that the school employed a staggering 1,000 cameras to monitor students and staff members. These cameras were installed in various areas, such as classrooms, corridors, and restrooms. Moreover, the cameras were equipped with microphones and advanced facial recognition technology, allowing the school to identify individuals.
The Significance of GDPR
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented on May 25, 2018, replaces the 1995 Data Protection Directive. It is a vital regulation in EU law that safeguards data protection and privacy rights of individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. The GDPR aims to enhance individuals’ control over their data and establish uniformity in data protection laws across the EU.
Based on their findings, CNIL issued a formal notice to School 42, directing them to cease using cameras and delete all personal data collected through these means. The school is required to comply with this notice within three months. Failure to do so may result in CNIL imposing penalties of 20 million euros or 4% of School 42’s global annual revenue, depending on whichever is higher.
Implications for Other Organizations
This incident is an important reminder to all organizations employing video surveillance systems to ensure strict compliance with data protection laws. Organizations must limit the usage of cameras to necessary and proportionate levels, refraining from collecting excessive personal data. It is crucial to inform individuals about the monitoring activities, providing them with comprehensive details about the purpose of surveillance and the subsequent use of the collected data. Non-compliance with these essential requirements can lead to severe penalties and consequences.
The formal notice issued by CNIL to School 42 indicates the serious consideration given to GDPR by data protection authorities. Organizations that fail to comply with data protection laws face substantial penalties that can severely impact their reputation and financial stability. Therefore, all organizations must prioritize data protection and take the necessary steps to comply with the law fully.
1. What is CNIL?
CNIL stands for Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, the French data protection authority responsible for enforcing data privacy laws related to collecting, storing, and using personal data.
2. What is the GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU law focusing on data protection and privacy rights for individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It aims to give individuals greater control over their data and harmonize data protection laws across the EU.
3. What GDPR violation did School 42 commit?
School 42 violated the GDPR by implementing excessive video surveillance on its premises. This involved using 1,000 cameras equipped with microphones and facial recognition technology, which exceeded the limits imposed by the GDPR regarding the collection and usage of personal data.
4. How did CNIL respond to School 42’s violation?
CNIL issued a formal notice to School 42, instructing them to discontinue the use of cameras and delete all personal data collected through them. The school has been given a three-month timeframe to comply with this notice.
5. What are the penalties for GDPR violations?
Organizations violating the GDPR can face penalties of up to 20 million euros or 4% of their global annual revenue, whichever amount is higher.
6. How can organizations ensure GDPR compliance?
To ensure GDPR compliance, organizations should use cameras only where necessary and proportionate, inform individuals about surveillance activities, provide clear information about the purpose of surveillance and data usage, and refrain from collecting excessive data not required for legitimate purposes.