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French Senators okay AI surveillance bill excluding facial recognition for 2024 Olympics

French Senators okay AI surveillance bill excluding facial recognition for 2024 Olympics

AI video surveillance technology will be used for incident detection during the 2024 Summer Olympics in France, but not facial recognition.

French Senators this week okayed a bill which excludes the use of biometrics and any other facial recognition technology during the sporting event to be staged in Paris.

The baton has now been passed on to the National Assembly which is expected to deliver its verdict on the draft legislation this month.

The vote from the Senators comes days after the country’s privacy watchdog had urged them not to endorse any government plan for the use of facial recognition systems during the games.

Last month, the Senators had put off a planned vote on the bill to institute rules and regulations to govern the games, among which was the proposed use of facial recognition technology. The legislators had said given the complex nature of facial recognition systems, a separate law would be more appropriate.

The bill recently voted by the French Senators allows for the use of CCTV cameras and drones around game venues and in other public places such as streets and public transportation. The recorded footage, which will not include personal data, will be analyzed to detect premeditated events, abnormal behavior or incidents that portend danger for persons attending the games.

Results of the analysis will immediately be sent to the police and other law enforcement officers for them to take required actions, the publication explains.

The video surveillance system will be installed by spring and will be in place till 30 June 2025. It will be used on experimental basis, officials say.

“This processing does not use any biometric identification system, does not process any biometric data and does not implement any facial recognition technique. They cannot carry out any reconciliation, interconnection or automated linking with other processing of personal data,” reads a portion of the bill as translated by Google.

Government ministers have backed the bill saying the move will provide added security during the games.

However, rights advocates think the measure could be exploited by security agencies to trample on privacy rights.

Amnesty International, which in January 2021 launched a campaign for a ban on facial recognition systems, has called the move a “dangerous step” for human and privacy rights, according to The Guardian.

The publication quotes Katia Roux, technology and human rights officer at the global rights watchdog as expressing worries over the decision.

“In terms of human rights and fundamental freedoms, we consider the proposal presents a danger to the right to a private life, it could also impact freedom of expression, freedom to meet, and the principle of non-discrimination,” Roux says.

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