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France Deploys AI Surveillance to Track Undeclared Swimming Pools, Takes €10 Million in Taxes

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: September 1, 2022
France is using an AI Panopticon to tax property owners with swimming pools
A burned out swimming pool at a campsite after a wildfire on July 19, 2022 in France. The government has deployed Google-backed AI surveillance to track undeclared home pools for the purposes of raking in extra property taxes. (Image: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

France is set to rake €10 million in taxes from homeowners after artificial intelligence surveillance software detected more than 20,000 undeclared swimming pools.

A Google Translate of an Aug. 28 article by Le Parisien aptly captures the spirit of the modern state of affairs.

“The tax authorities are rubbing their hands,” it reads. 

The report explains that starting in October of 2021, nine departments of the government used “artificial intelligence software” to find 20,356 “undeclared swimming pools.”

MORE ON THE TRANSFORMATION TO A  SURVEILLANCE STATE

“Nearly 10 million euros will thus be recovered this fall, via the property tax, under new taxes and any adjustments that can go back up to four years,” it adds. 

“And that’s just the beginning.”

Reporting on the story by Breitbart on Aug. 31 explains that the system is called “Innovative Land” and “will be expanded this October and again next year with the aim of blanketing the entire country under the surveillance system.”

“Developed by Google and French IT firm Capgemini, the software processes overhead images taken by National Institute for Geographic and Forestry Information (IGN) and compares them with land registry data,” it explains.

Le Parisien states that the government is set to take €40 million more out of the public pocket in taxes next year alone.

Aug. 30 reporting by the New York Times explained that in France, “Pools are taxed by size and according to local tax rates; the average 30-square-meter pool, or roughly 323 square feet, costs the owner about 200 euros in taxes per year.”

According to Aug. 30 reporting by Bloomberg, the French tax authority claimed in a statement that the program is, naturally, for the public good and for the sake of “equity” and “justice.”

“The aim is to fight more effectively against anomalous declarations and respond to the demands of citizens for greater equity and tax justice,” the agency claimed.

The outlet elucidated that swimming pools are a huge industry in France, with more than 3 million at least 10 square meters in size being present in 2020, making the country the largest market in Europe and second place worldwide behind the United States.

NYT stated that Deputy Director General of Public Finances Antoine Magnant heralded the panopticon “as a source of additional revenue for local authorities.”

‘Sharp Eyes’

The system harkens to a more direct and less civil type of panopticon deployed by the notorious Chinese Communist Party in mainland China called the “Sharp Eyes Project.”

In early 2021, Dajiyuan, the Chinese-language version of The Epoch Times, received leaked public security documents chronicling the deployment of the project in the Nanjing City area where the regime boasted about using Sharp Eyes to deploy facial recognition to persecute civilians.

The documents called on installing cameras “near province- and city-level highways; district-level roads; and core governmental zones, transportation hubs, hospitals, squares, and communities… Pedestrians should be videotaped every 10, 20, and 30 minutes.”

Dajiyuan explained, “According to the report, the project successfully recognized 1,158 photos of various local ‘key targets.’ The system identified more than 60 targets for its local ‘Domestic Security’ and more than 10 people accused of crimes.” 

“China’s Domestic Security Bureau offices make up a secret police force tasked with neutralizing individuals that the Communist Party deems to be political threats,” the outlet elaborated.

A 2018 article on Sharp Eyes by the Los Angeles Times recounted one telling, albeit seemingly innocuous, anecdote, “When a resident of Anxi village in the Sichuan province of China set a match to a small pile of garbage in the gutter two years ago, a loudspeaker blared out his name and address and ordered him to extinguish the blaze immediately.” 

“He jumped with fright, quickly put out the flames and scurried away,” it reported.

However, human rights website Bitter Winter quoted one resident of Xian City who has lived under the auspices of Sharp Eyes, who put reality into more direct terms, “The CCP is already monitoring us in our homes, what privacy do we have left? It’s like we’ve all got ropes around our necks and are being led on leashes.”

“We’re all living under a microscope, and it’s terrifying.”