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Surveillance cameras on public roads and in places open to the public

Verified 07 February 2022 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of the Interior

You've seen cameras in your city and you wonder if it's legal? You were filmed and you want to know how to view the images? We present you the rules to know concerning cameras settled on the public road (street, road...) and places open to the public (railway station, town hall, trade...).

Public Authorities

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Public authorities (for example, the mayor) can film the public for any of the following reasons:

  • Protection public buildings and facilities and approaches
  • Backup of installations useful to national defence
  • Regulation of transport flow
  • Finding of violations of traffic rules
  • Prevention of security of persons and property in places particularly exposed to risk of theft or drug trafficking
  • Prevention acts of terrorism
  • Prevention natural or technological risks
  • Rescue and defence against terrorismfire
  • Security of public facilities in amusement parks
  • Compliance with the obligation to have liability insurance for drive a motor vehicle
  • Prevention and detection of an offence related to abandonment of garbage, waste, materials or other objects

Cameras shall not permit viewing of the entrance and interior of residential buildings.

Place or establishment open to the public

Public authorities can film a place or establishment open to the public for protect the immediate surroundings of shops in places exposed to risk of assault or theft.

Company, public institution

A company or public institution can film immediate surroundings of its buildings and facilities in places exposed to acts of terrorism.


A trader can film the public road to ensure the protection of the immediate surroundings of its buildings and installations, in places exposed to risk of assault or theft or acts of terrorism.

He must first inform mayor of the town.

Outdoor cameras must be disconnected from the cameras settled inside to prevent the trader from accessing the recorded images.

Public authorities (mayor...) or professionals (merchant, transport company...) must obtain authorisation from the prefect before filming the highway and open spaces .

They shall conduct data protection impact assessment (AIPD) .

One specific authorisation is to be requested Cnil: titleContent in the case of a device settled to identify persons (biometric camera).

One display (or sign), with camera pictogramshall indicate the existence of the video protection system.

Example of a poster informing about a video protection system. The poster contains a pictogram of a camera. It indicates the purpose of the system, the duration of the preservation of the images, the contact details of the person to be contacted, the right to make a complaint to the National Commission of Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil).
Crédits :
A poster informing about the existence of a video protection system

The poster must be present continuously in the place concerned.

It must be understandable.

The poster must include the name and telephone number of the Data Protection Officer (DPO) if the establishment is large (for example: large area).

Image preservation is 1 month maximum except pending court proceedings.

If you were filmed, ask to view images and verify their destruction within the time limit set by the prefect.

Submit your request to the head of the video protection system.

In general, this is Data Protection Officer (DPO).

His name and telephone number are indicated on the poster indicating the existence of the video protection system.

Access to images is a right if you have been filmed.

However, it may denied for reasons : State security, defence, public security, during an ongoing judicial investigation or to protect the privacy of others.

Departmental Video Protection Board

You can contact the departmental commission for video protection in case of difficulty related to the operation of the video protection device.

The request is to be sent by mail.

The commission sits in the prefecture.

Who shall I contact

In Paris:

National Commission on Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil)

You can contact Cnil: titleContent a difficulty related to the operation of a video protection device.

Submit an online complaint to the Cnil

Appeal before the judge

You can apply to the competent court even if you have already contacted the departmental committee for video protection.

This can be a administrative jurisdiction or judicial, depending on the situation and the purpose of the appeal.

If necessary, you can submit an application referenced.

Who can help me?

Find who can answer your questions in your region