News from FERA Members: Police Everywhere, Images Nowhere
An opinion column by FERA French member La Société des Réalisateurs de Films (SRF) published in Liberation on November 12, 2020 in reaction to the bill “for global security” brought together the signatures and support of more than 800 filmmakers and image professionals as well as around forty organizations and collectives
On September 14, SRF filmmakers denounced the Minister of the Interior’s will to demand that the media and social networks blur the faces of police officers in operation in a text entitled “The eye and the hand of Darmanin”.
It eventually turned into a bill chillingly titled “Global Security”. After being examined last week in its Constitutional Acts, Legislation and General Administration Committee, it will be debated in the National Assembly on November 17.
In three articles (21, 22, 24), the government proposes to deregulate the use of mobile cameras worn by the police, to allow facial recognition in real time, to extend surveillance by drone, to prohibit the public from disseminating the image of police officers.
This law, whose main author is the former head of the RAID [elite tactical unit of the French national police], foreshadows a society governed by fear where citizens, deprived of the right to scrutinize police action, would see in return their bodies exposed without limit to police surveillance. It draws an asymmetrical landscape, a sort of giant panopticon, where our fundamental freedoms are seriously threatened – first and foremost the right to privacy and freedom of information.
After gradually hampering street demonstrations and seriously injuring or mutilating dozens of people, it is about systematizing the identification, surveillance and registration of individuals wishing to exercise this fundamental right. After having denied and invariably refused to sanction police brutality, it is about erasing all evidence, as only the images shot by anonymous filmers can attest to this today.
For many filmmakers, this law would constitute outright censorship. A film such as David Dufresne’s recent Un pays qui se tient sage could not see the light of day, as most of the sources of footage it uses fall under the law.
To the growing hegemony of images disseminated by the powers that be, filmmakers, photographers, journalists, as well as all the inhabitants of this country must be able to oppose their own images. Let’s remember that the rule of law is based on the right to scrutinize what the actions of the State.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of Parliament, we do not want a world of generalized surveillance, governed by an almighty eye on which no gaze could be directed. Do not vote for a law that would blind the checks and balances process, as it is the guarantor of our democracy.
Text in French available on La SRF website https://www.la-srf.fr/article/police-partout-images-nulle-part