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Facial recognition ruled out for 2024 Olympics and Paralympics by French Ministry of Sport

Facial recognition ruled out for 2024 Olympics and Paralympics by French Ministry of Sport

France’s Ministry of Sport confirmed that the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris will not make use of facial recognition as a security measure. Quoted in Le Parisienne, Minister of Sport Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said a bill dictating the Games’ organizational plan “totally and explicitly” excludes facial recognition technology from the event.

Once submitted to Parliament, the bill will formalize a pledge made by public officials in recent weeks, ensuring that biometric facial scans will not be part of the festivities for Paris 2024. Oudéa-Castéra said it is simply not allowable under current French law.

“I understand the expectation and the importance of facial recognition, especially after the events at the Stade de France,” she said, referring to an incident at a football match in May 2022, in which fans stormed the gates with fake tickets, and police deployed tear gas against Liverpool supporters. That event led some politicians to call for increased use of facial recognition at major sporting events.

“But currently,” said Oudéa-Castéra, “the legislative provisions concerning security do not provide for these devices.”

In lieu of biometrics, France will add video protection devices using “intelligent, but anonymized algorithms to manage crowd movements in transport.” Oudéa-Castéra said these will include “so-called ‘augmented’ cameras [which] will be able to detect the presence of an object abandoned by its owner on a public highway.”

So, while facial recognition is out, the bill will not prohibit “artificial intelligence to facilitate the work of securing the competition.”

In preparation for the Games, which are scheduled to run from July 26 to August 11, 2024, the city of Paris is also adding at least 400 additional video surveillance cameras to its streets.

At the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, held in Beijing, facial recognition terminals were deployed to provide identity verification without requiring people to remove their masks.

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