This article presents a historical account of the introduction and use of video surveillance cameras in France. Specific reference is made of the introduction of regulatory and legislative arrangements and to political debates surrounding the provision of video surveillance cameras. A feature of the French context has been a desire by national government to install cameras more widely in public places and a resistance to do so by local regions (departments). This highlights a traditional tension between central and local government in France and the significance of political rhetoric to the ongoing installation and operation of video surveillance cameras.
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