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Marseille’s battle in opposition to the surveillance state


GABRIELLE VOINOT

For Nano the creep of elevated surveillance has private resonance. She grew up in Albania because it lurched between totally different political regimes within the Nineteen Nineties. Her father, a politician, opposed the party that was in energy for a part of that point. “It was a really troublesome interval for us, as a result of we have been all being watched,” she says. Her household suspected that the authorities had put in bugs within the partitions of their dwelling. But even in France, freedoms are fragile. “These previous 5 years France has lived for a lot of the time in a state of emergency,” she says. “I’ve seen an increasing number of constraints placed on our liberty.”

Concerns have been raised all through the nation. But the surveillance rollout has met particular resistance in Marseille, France’s second-biggest metropolis. The boisterous, rebellious Mediterranean city sits on a few of the fault traces that run by means of fashionable France. Known for hip bars, artist studios, and startup hubs, it’s also notorious for drugs, poverty, and criminal activity. It has one of the crucial ethnically numerous populations in Europe however is stranded in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, a area that leans far proper. The metropolis pushes again. Its perspective might be summed up by graffiti you would possibly go as you drive in on the A7 motorway: “La vie est (re)belle.”

That all makes Marseille a curious testing floor for surveillance tech. When President Emmanuel Macron visited town in September 2021, he introduced that 500 more security cameras can be given to town council. They can be positioned in an space of town that’s dwelling to excessive numbers of immigrants and has turn into synonymous with violence and gang exercise. He struck a law-and-order tone: “If we are able to’t reach Marseille, we are able to’t make successful out of France.”

The announcement was simply the newest in a string of developments in Marseille that present an elevated reliance on cameras in public areas. 

Activists are combating again, highlighting the prevailing surveillance system’s overreach and underperformance. Their message appears to resonate. In 2020, town elected a brand new administration, one which had pledged a moratorium on video surveillance gadgets. But have the residents of Marseille succeeded, or are they merely combating a rising tide?

Technopolice, a marketing campaign and activist community launched by the digital rights advocacy group La Quadrature du Net in collaboration with different teams, acquired its begin in 2019. Félix Tréguer, an affiliate researcher on the CNRS Center for Internet and Society, was a type of behind the marketing campaign. He had been seeing rising numbers of articles within the French media about new surveillance initiatives and was shocked at how uncritical they have been. “[One] merely rehashed the press launch from the Marseille council,” he says.

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