ZFE: smart cameras, data collected… what we know about the devices that will penalize drivers

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To check whether motorists are authorized to circulate, smart cameras will be installed at the entrance to French cities which have set up a low mobility emission zone (ZFE-m) within them. The city of Toulouse is concerned, but what do we really know about this device? La Dépêche du Midi answers you.

The Low Emission Zones (ZFE, or ZFEm) “are a necessity for ecological and public health reasons”, insisted, last October, Clément Beaune, the Minister Delegate for Transport. Since January 1, cars and motorcycles with Crit’Air 4 and 5 stickers are now prohibited from driving in the low emission zone of several French cities, including Toulouse. Offenders risk a fine of €68 for cars and €135 for trucks and coaches.

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If 2023 is intended to be a year of “pedagogy” on the side of the police – the prefecture has nevertheless recognized that, since its establishment, “a few dozen offenses have been verbalized” -, from the second half of 2024 , automated checks will automatically ticket vehicles that enter the zone without respecting the conditions. These checks should be carried out by smart cameras capable of reading license plates and taking into account Crit’Air stickers, as well as the exemptions enjoyed by certain vehicles.

According to the vice-president of Toulouse Métropole in charge of the ZFE, François Chollet, it is nearly “about sixty cameras” which should be installed in the Pink City before mid-2024.

A regulated implementation

The installation of these smart cameras will have to be authorized by the prefect of the department and, for this, they will have to respect three conditions imposed by the law of orientation of mobility. The authorization can only be issued if the control devices “do not lead to the control each day of more than 15% of the average daily number of vehicles circulating within the area” and if their location does not allow detection of all vehicles entering the area.

In addition, the number of radars installed must be proportional to the size of the road. This desire to cap the number of vehicles checked is explained by the obligation to comply with the regulations relating to the protection of personal data and the impossibility for the authorities to collect too much data.

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Because, who says multiplication of video surveillance, says risk for the rights and freedoms of people. By filming all the vehicles circulating in their field of vision, these control tools will be able to determine the identity of the driver, of his passengers, the time or the place of passage.

Several civil society actors denounce a turn towards a “safe city”: “Ecology is the new pretext for deploying video surveillance cameras and legitimizing repressive policies”, reacted in particular to La Quadrature du net with Reporterre.

For these reasons, it has been established by the authorities that these specific control devices will only be used to record offenses related to air pollution and that the retention period for data relating to fined vehicles will be limited to 8 days. maximum, unless criminal proceedings are initiated within this period. For motorists respecting the law, this information will be automatically deleted.

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