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French student backlash scuppers ‘Big Brother’ connected bed plans

A French firm has been forced to abandon a pilot project to test connected beds - which transmit real-time information on what’s going on in the sack - after the students they were to be tried out on complained of Big Brother tactics.

French student backlash scuppers 'Big Brother' connected bed plans
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Espace Loggia, a designer of space-saving furniture, had put sensors in ten of the 150 foldaway beds installed in the nine square-metre rooms of a newly renovated student residence in Rennes, the capital of the Brittany region.
 
The connected beds when not in use could be hoisted up to the ceiling, leaving the student space to work at his or her desk. Sensors were placed in the beds that transmit data that enables the company to know if there is a technical problem.
 
“If a student uses the bed to do pull-ups on, or if the mattress is used as a sofa for ten people, then we know about it,” Paul Malignac, the boss of Espace Loggia, told Ouest France.
 
He did not specifically mention that the sensors would likely also be able to detect sexual activity, but that may well have been foremost in the minds of the students who expressed their deep concern to the daily regional paper.
 
“It’s like being spied on,” said one, while others complained that they had not been informed of the project.
 
The scheme quickly sparked a minor media outcry, and Malignac on Friday told Ouest France that “we don’t want to police students in their bedrooms” and that the sensors were merely to make sure the beds were kept in good shape.
 
Artisans IoT, the company that made the connected beds for Espace Loggia, said they had not been put into service and would only have been tested on students who gave their consent.
 
But CROUS, the authority in charge of the student residence, said that it was nevertheless ditching the project.
 
“We are just as scandalised as them (the students)” about the possible misuse of the technology, it said in a statement.

LIVING IN FRANCE

France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

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