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No facial recognition at 2024 Olympics, French privacy watchdog tells parliament

No facial recognition at 2024 Olympics, French privacy watchdog tells parliament

The French parliament has been urged not to consider deploying facial recognition at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics event by Marie-Laure Denis, president of the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés).

According to reporting by Franceinfo (in French), the head of the French data protection authority mentioned a bill examined in parliament on Tuesday, saying she wrote to the parliament outlining her reasons against deploying facial recognition and other surveillance technologies at the 2024 Olympics.

In particular, Denis said that while the amendment to include facial recognition in the bill was rejected by the Senate’s law committee, it can still return in the plenary session.

In other words, while the bill in its current state does not include facial recognition, it does not prohibit the use of “artificial intelligence to facilitate the work of securing the competition.”

The warning came hours before the start of the Senate’s plenary session, which voted on Tuesday on the law introducing new surveillance powers for the state.

Over the last year, France has undergone a visible push toward the adoption of facial recognition. In July 2022, for instance, the Mayor of Nice called for deploying such technologies to prevent situations akin to the clashes at the Stade de France.

More recently, however, a Senate Committee session showed that there is still substantial difference of opinion in the country between legislators interested in deploying facial recognition and those who, like Denis, consider it an excessive surveillance tool.

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