x

International

Lawmakers Vote on Paris Olympic Law with Surveillance Fears

PARIS — A proposed French law for the 2024 Paris Olympics that critics contend will open the door for privacy-busting video surveillance technology in France and elsewhere in Europe faces an important hurdle on Tuesday with lawmakers set to vote on it.

The bill would legalize the temporary use of so-called intelligent surveillance systems to safeguard the Paris Games, which run next year from July 26-Aug. 11, and the Paralympics that follow. The systems combine cameras with artificial intelligence software to flag potential security concerns, such as abandoned packages or crowd surges. Human operators would decide whether action is needed.

French authorities insist the surveillance wouldn’t involve facial recognition. Supporters of the bill argue that the technology could help avert disasters like the deadly crowd crush that killed nearly 160 people during Halloween festivities in South Korea in October.

“It’s not about recognizing ‘Mr. X’ in a crowd,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told National Assembly lawmakers last week when they were debating the measures. “It’s about recognizing situations.”

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the draft in January, by 245 votes to 28. If the National Assembly follows suit Tuesday afternoon, the bill is slated for further fine-tuning by assembly members and senators before its final adoption, expected in April.

Digital rights watchdog groups argue that France will violate international human rights law by becoming the first of the European Union’s 27 countries to legalize AI-powered surveillance, even if just temporarily. The bill says the technology can be used on an experimental basis to the end of 2024 to safeguard sporting and cultural events in France that are particularly at risk of being targeted by terror attacks.

The technology’s use “risks permanently transforming France into a dystopian surveillance state” and “will lead to an all-out assault on the rights to privacy, protest, and freedom of assembly and expression,” said Mher Hakobyan, an Amnesty International adviser on AI regulation.

“It has also been well-documented that hostile surveillance technologies are disproportionately used to target marginalized groups, including migrants and Black and brown people,” Hakobyan added.

Even though the draft law says the cameras won’t use facial recognition, they are still liable to scrutinize physical traits including people’s postures, walks and gestures, critics contend. Opponents also are concerned that the technology risks zeroing-in on people who spend a lot of time in public spaces, such as the homeless. The bill also clears the way for the technology’s use with cameras mounted on drones.

During last week’s National Assembly discussions on the bill, opposition lawmaker Sandra Regol argued that it would turn Olympic visitors into “guinea pigs” for AI-powered surveillance.

 

RELATED

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make a record sixth appearance at the European Championship with Portugal's squad.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s Behind the Weird Flavors Popping Up on Store Shelves

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream usually draws customers with gourmet takes on classics like vanilla and pistachio.

Artificial Intelligence will provide us with one surprise – hopefully mainly good ones – after another far into the future, but for some people, especially writers and readers of science fiction, some of the news will be old news.

NEW YORK – Teatro Grattacielo presents The Young Artists Series: G.

NEW YORK – Effie Lazaridou, CEO of New Agriculture New Generation (NANG), spoke with The National Herald about the organization which she has led since it began in 2018 and which aims to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in the agrifood industry in Greece.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti  — Haiti’s main international airport reopened Monday for the first time in nearly three months after relentless gang violence forced authorities to close it.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.