State-owned news outlet France24 reported on March 25 that the French National Assembly would adopt a new law ahead of the 2024 Olympics. The legislation adopted on March 28 would permit shops to open on Sundays, establish a health center in the Seine-Saint-Denis department in Paris' northeast.
However, the law would also permit the French state to investigate future accredited persons. Article Seven of the said law would allow the use of artificial intelligence (AI) video surveillance on a trial basis to ensure the safety of large-scale "sporting, recreational or cultural events." True enough, the 2024 Olympics is a perfect opportunity for the French government to pilot this measure.
Proponents of Article Seven claim it will allow authorities to anticipate crowd movements, spot abandoned luggage and nip potentially dangerous incidents in the bud by identifying abnormal behavior. Meanwhile, critics of the measure such as human rights organizations claim that it infringes on privacy and sets a dangerous precedent.
Some opponents zoomed on the algorithm for the AI that they believe incorporates discriminatory biases. Katia Roux, technology and human rights specialist at Amnesty International, explained: "These algorithms are going to be trained using a set of data decided and designed by human beings. They will, therefore, be able to incorporate the discriminatory biases of the people who conceived and designed them."
Lawyer Arnaud Touati, who specializes in digital law, concurred with Roux's remarks. He pointed out: "AI video surveillance has already been used for racist purposes, notably by China in the exclusive surveillance of the Uyghurs – a Muslim minority present in the country." (Related: Chinese surveillance firms helping CCP draft "standards" to allow surveillance systems to track ethnic minorities.)
Fortunately, the law has not yet taken effect as it will undergo revisions and make back-and-forth trips between the National Assembly and the Senate. The law is set to end on Dec. 31, 2024, which means other sports events outside the Olympics – including the Paralympic Games and the Rugby World Cup from Sept. 8, 2024 to Oct. 28, 2024 – could also be subject to surveillance.
This was not the first iteration of the Games that involved surveillance by authorities. According to an October 2011 paper published in Urban Studies, the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympics also resorted to the same.
"All post-9/11 Olympic Games and sport mega events deploy super-surveillance systems as a future security investment, albeit at the expense of rights and freedoms. These surveillance systems have an emerging anti-democratic legacy which stretches beyond the hosting of the Olympics," it pointed out.
The 2012 London Olympics also saw widespread use of video surveillance in the British capital. Meanwhile, the 2018 World Cup held in Russia made use of voice recognition technology. The same technology was later used to repress the opposition in Russia, according to Roux.
She continued: "By adopting this law, France would become the champion of video surveillance in the European Union and set an extremely dangerous precedent. It would send an extremely worrying signal to countries that might be tempted to use this technology against their own population."
Video surveillance, Roux warned, will eventually lead to biometric or voice surveillance in the future. She remarked: "Facial recognition is just a feature waiting to be activated."
Visit Surveillance.news for more stories about the use of surveillance in major events.
Watch this video about China – where the 2008 Olympic Games were held – being the world's biggest camera surveillance network.
This video is from the jonastheprophet channel on Brighteon.com.