France to launch facial recognition ID app

France is reportedly planning to launch an identification programme that involves the use of facial recognition. Alicem, an online application which ‘allows users to prove their identity online in a secure manner’ is developed by the Ministry of Interior, and has been in use since June 2019 as part of an experimental test phase. Alicem is expected to be deployed nationwide as of November 2019. The app relies on facial recognition technology to identify the user: it reads the chip embedded in a biometric document (e.g. passport) and crosses the photo on the chip with the phone user via facial recognition. Once identity is confirmed, the user can access a series of public services without additional checks. Although it will be on the citizens to decide whether to use this app, the French data protection authority (CNIL) has expressed concerns about its compliance with EU data protection regulations. CNIL stated that the app would breach legal provisions regarding consent if certain public services are only accessible via the app. Moreover, security concerns have also been expressed, after a hacker revealed that he was able to break into the app within little over an hour.